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Mobilizing the community usually isn't covered in educators' preservice training or professional development, much less made part of their job description. No wonder it may strike many as a daunting, unfamiliar task. The efforts of National Urban League affiliates—typically in close collaboration with school boards, superintendents, principals, and teachers—to mobilize their communities can provide tangible insights for educators who aspire to enlist their own communities in the cause of helping students succeed. The activities described in this chapter and the next offer concrete ideas, inspiration, and "lessons learned" for educators who see the value of enlisting community groups to help encourage youngsters to learn and achieve.
Launching the Campaign
When I became president of the National Urban League in 1994, many national and local leaders of our movement were as profoundly troubled as I was by the disturbing statistics about the underachievement and nagging achievement gaps that were holding our youngsters back. We were also distressed by anti-intellectualism among some black students, who resisted doing well academically because they claimed it was tantamount to "acting white."