The pandemic piqued interest among parents and families in a tradition that has been in existence since the arrival of African people to the Americas. Although some families just started exploring alternatives to public school, generations of mamas and babas in the D.C. metropolitan area have spent decades organizing homeschool communities and maintaining independent African-centered K-12 institutions.

Many of our young people have since returned to public and public charter schools. However, the fervor for educational self-determination hasn’t waned amid concerns about book bans. For those who are seeking family-oriented, culturally enriching spaces for their child, here’s a list of institutions that fit the bill.

Kuumba Preparatory School of the Arts & Learning Center

From toddlers to high school students, those who attend Kuumba Preparatory School of the Arts & Learning Center receive year-round, African-centered academic, cultural and arts-focused education. The goal, as stated on Kuumba’s website, centers on the character and artistic development of children. Instructors carry out this mission through the incorporation of African-centered concepts in the core curriculum and use of the arts to stimulate learning.

For more information: 3328-3332 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE Washington, DC 20032
Phone: (202) 563-5971 contact-us.html


Founded in 1974, NationHouse serves the specific needs of African children from the moment they enter preschool all the way up to their graduation from high school, all with the goal of culturally developing young people who are dedicated to their families, community and African heritage. Its fully functioning programs, which include Watoto School and Sankofa Institute, have produced alumni who’ve excelled academically and professionally across the United States and around the world.

For more information: 6101 Dix St NE Washington, DC 20019 Email: Phone: (202) 291-5600

Ujamaa Shule

As the oldest independent African-centered K-12 institution in the U.S., Ujamaa Shule has set out to provide an education that ensures African youth develop a positive self-image. Programming includes African culture and history, advanced mathematics and science, African drum and dance, and manhood and womanhood training workshops. Ujamma Shule also touts a small class size and family-oriented environment that instructors say better enable young people, as young as 2 years old, to excel academically and acquire the building blocks needed to meet life’s challenges independently and positively.

For more information: 1554 8th St NW Washington, DC 20002

Email: Phone: (202) 232-2997

Roots Public Charter School & Roots Activity Learning Center

At both of these institutions, student academic achievement is rooted in the execution of a curriculum centered on African-centered cultural, emotional and psychological development. Since 1977, Roots Activity Learning Center has exposed infants and preschool children to foundational songs, games and stories. In the 1990s, Roots Public Charter School opened as an accessible African-centered alternative for children in the surrounding community. As has been the case with other legacy African-centered education programs, current Roots students come from a lineage of alumni and teachers affiliated with the school. Many of those alumni have gone on to lead fulfilling lives as seasoned professionals and leaders of their families.

For more information: 15 Kennedy Street NW Washington DC 20011 Phone: (202) 882-8073

Sankofa Homeschool Collective

Since 2004, Black mothers in the D.C. metropolitan area have united around their choice to independently educate their children. Years before the pandemic, the Sankofa Homeschool Collective has coordinated enrichment activities and classes for youth at Deanwood Recreation Center in Northeast and later Adinkra Cultural Arts Studio in Mt. Rainer, Maryland. During those sessions, parents spent the day building community with one another while youth learned a variety of skills from an African-centered perspective. Over the years, community members have increasingly become involved in the collective as teachers. The homeschool program has also gone virtual, allowing families from all around the world to access an expanded assortment of courses, including those dealing with African languages.

For more information:

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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