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Habitat Announces Ground-Breaking Partnership with Black Men Teach

Habitat Announces Ground-Breaking Partnership with Black Men Teach

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is thrilled to announce our new partnership with Black Men Teach (BMT)—designed to provide pathways to homeownership for Black male teachers in our community. The partnership was launched during Teacher Appreciation Week in May 2023 and shared publicly for the first time at BMT’s Gold Star Gala in November.

Check out this video about the partnership and read on to learn more about why this partnership is critical to building a vibrant, equitable Twin Cities.

 

Closing the Education Gap

The mission of Black Men Teach (BMT), formed in 2018, is to recruit, prepare, place, and retain Black male teachers in elementary school classrooms.

According to BMT Executive Director Markus Flynn, Minnesota ranks last nationally in disparities between Black and white student graduation rates. But having just one Black teacher in grades 3-5 decreases the likelihood of a low-income Black student dropping out of high school by 39%. 

“When you think of the words that describe an elementary school teacher, you often think: kind, caring, nurturing, creative, helpful. Unfortunately, these are not things people generally attribute to Black men. We need to change the archetype for an elementary school teacher; we need to undermine that unconscious bias that Black men aren’t in or don’t belong in education.

“Representation in the classroom can change a student’s trajectory throughout the whole school year,” Markus said. “A student has more engagement in class when they see themselves in the teacher.”

Currently in Minnesota, Black men make up just one half of one percent of teachers. BMT works to overcome recurring obstacles for Black male teacher candidates to keep them thriving in the profession.

“Teaching has not been painted as the most awe-inspiring career,” Markus said. “We don’t have compelling incentives for teachers to stay teachers.” And elementary schools haven’t had to adapt to being a welcoming space for Black men. “Finding men hasn’t been a challenge,” Markus explained. “There are men who want to teach; they will raise their hand to teach, but the system will tell them to put that hand down.”

BMT members smiling

The same systemic biases that keep Black men out of the teaching profession have kept Black people from becoming homeowners.

“Black people were robbed of one of the primary ways of getting homes, including being denied FHA loans. With less access to purchasing a home, Black families were less able to accumulate wealth, and schools located in Black communities received less funding,” Markus explained.

Minnesota has a long legacy of racial covenants in housing. Not only does the state have the largest education achievement gap between white and Black students in the entire country, it has the largest homeownership gap between white and Black people. This is not just about a home near a school; it’s about access to something Black people have historically been denied.

“None of my men should have to leave the profession in order to buy a home,” Markus said. “They’ve made an impact on other peoples’ children and are denied part of the American dream.”

That’s where Twin Cities Habitat comes in.

The Partnership

A board member for Black Men Teach approached Twin Cities Habitat over a year ago with an idea. BMT had received funds specifically to help their members become homeowners and needed a partner to administer the program.

“Habitat has the staff and the capacity to help distribute these funds,” said Markus. “We want to make sure our members have the support they need.”

Twin Cities Habitat’s Advancing Black Homeownership initiative includes a Special Purpose Credit Program specifically to help Foundational Black Americans (US-born Black or African American Minnesotans who are descendants of slavery) become homeowners. Through the new partnership, teachers who have been members of BMT for two years can embark on a path to first-time homeownership with access to financial coaching and downpayment assistance through the funds that Habitat will administer. Several individuals have already started the process.

“Systems are designed to go on without intervention. We are disrupting the system. We have to work outside the system to change it,” says Danielle Duncan. Danielle is Director of Equity and Inclusion at Twin Cities Habitat and has been instrumental in developing our partnership with Black Men Teach.

We are so proud of this new partnership which supports Black male teachers on their journey to homeownership! Danielle said it best: We understand the transformational power of homeownership. Just as the members of Black Men Teach are investing in our children, we’re investing in them.

If you're interested in exploring a partnership with Twin Cities Habitat, please email equity@tchabitat.org.

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