Dayton Flight: a community partnership that connects students to African-American men

Keisha Anderson is working to engage more African-American men and bring them into her school.

“I want to open school spaces to dads, uncles, male mentors, pastors, barbers, whoever has a positive male influence in students’ lives. I am opening doors so they can come into our building.”

Anderson is the City Connects Coordinator at Belle Haven Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, and although she’s excited about having mothers, aunts, and female mentors in her school, she says that these women already show up. Teachers are already comfortable reaching out to mothers. And there are already a number of programs that focus on girls.

To be inclusive and focus on boys, Anderson reached out and formed a community partnership with Dayton Flight, a professional basketball team.

Anderson doesn’t like what she calls “one and done” community partnerships, so she has found multiple ways for the team to interact with her school. The team has provided families with tickets to games, boosting Anderson’s family engagement efforts. Players also visited Belle Haven last May for Field Day and played basketball with students.

“There were these big brother moments,” Anderson recalls, “young students thinking they could actually dunk the ball even though they were up against big players. It’s these positive moments that our kids will probably live off for a long time.”

Brandon Harper, Team Market Owner and General Manager of Dayton Flight, says it was “a natural fit” to get involved with Belle Haven.

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