Umoja Community Website


Our Mission

Umoja, (a Kiswahili word meaning unity) is a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of African American and other students. We believe that when the voices and histories of students are deliberately and intentionally recognized, the opportunity for self-efficacy emerges and a foundation is formed for academic success. Umoja actively serves and promotes student success for all students through a curriculum and pedagogy responsive to the legacy of the African and African American Diasporas.

Organizing Principles

Our community:

  • Is based on a research-based core set of pedagogies and promising practices;
  • Helps to strengthen the academic success of all students;
  • Supports the persistence and retention of all students toward defined educational goals, such as transfer, certificate, associate degree;
  • Offers both instructional and student services;
  • Integrates direct instruction of information and technology literacy;
  • Utilizes sound assessment strategies and a set of core benchmark measures;
  • Includes recruitment and regular training of students, staff and faculty through seminars, conferences, and other professional development;
  • Facilitates the sharing of resources: financial, curriculum, methodologies, pedagogies;
  • Commits to collaborating with the campus to ensure integration of the Umoja community and the college’s mission goals, strategic plans, and student equity efforts.

Educational Philosophy

Umoja is a community of educators and learners committed to the academic success, personal growth and self-actualization of African American and other students. The Umoja Community seeks to educate the whole student–body, mind and spirit. Informed by an ethic of love and its vital power, the Umoja Community will deliberately engage students as full participants in the construction of knowledge and critical thought.

The Umoja Community seeks to help students experience themselves as valuable and worthy of an education. The Umoja Community gains meaning through its connection to the African Diaspora. African and African American intellectual, cultural, and spiritual gifts inform Umoja Community values and practices. The Umoja Community seeks to nurture knowledge of and pride in these treasures. The learning experience within the Umoja Community will provide each individual the opportunity to add their voice and their story to the collective voices and stories of the African Diaspora.

African American students are inextricably connected to global struggles for liberation throughout the African Diaspora. In light of this, the Umoja Community views education as a liberatory act designed to empower all students to critique, engage, and transform deleterious social and institutional practices locally and globally. The Umoja Community will practice and foster civic engagement so that all its participants integrate learning and service. Likewise, the Umoja Community will instill in our students the knowledge and skills necessary to enable them to make positive differences in their lives and the lives of others.

Core Requirements

Colleges wishing to launch a new program or affiliate an existing program focused on the retention and academic success of African American students based on the model established by the Umoja Community of California Community Colleges, are expected to adhere to the following core requirements:

Memorandum of Understanding

  • Complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the college president to ensure campus commitment to the Umoja Community educational philosophy, organizing principles and core requirements

Administrative

  • Provide a program coordinator to plan and administer program activities and oversee program budget
  • Create a new student orientation/welcoming ritual/rite of passage or other event at the onset of the program and a year-end/culmination/awards program at the conclusion of the academic year for first year students
  • Work with campus research office to produce a yearly report to include an evaluation of the program retention, persistence and success data

Curriculum

  • Provide a learning community model (students take two or more linked courses) or cohort model (students enroll in one program course and other classes with the general population)
  • Provide a two semester sequence of guidance/counseling classes for first year students in the program

Village Space

  • Provide a dedicated space to serve as a village area where program students and staff can gather

Student Support Services

  • Provide counseling support and follow-up services until program students graduate or transfer on to a four-year university
  • Provide a mentoring program with college staff and/or community mentors

Training and Support

  • Participate in an initial Summer Learning Institute for staff training and development (all program team members)
  • Participate in site team visits conducted by Umoja Community Governing Board members

Student Responsibilities

  • Complete a program application and student contract
  • Participate in program orientation or rite of passage event marking entrance or welcoming into the program
  • Meet with a counselor twice per semester and complete a comprehensive student educational plan
  • Enroll in and complete a two semester sequence of Counseling Guidance classes
  • Attend required field trips and/or cultural activities as prescribed by the program coordinator
  • Participate in mentoring
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Community Colleges Board of Governors Fee waiver form (eligible students only)

Umoja Community Song

Copyright 2008  Terence Elliott and Kendall Gums