Ever since the Oakland Unified School District launched its African-American Male Achievement office eight years ago people have been asking, “What about the girls?”

Among them were community leaders like Nzingha Dugas, who under contract to the district for many years ran academic enrichment programs and a basketball league that she says kept more than a few girls out of trouble — and in some cases out of the grasp of sex traffickers.

More recently, 12-year-old Jordan Smith joined the chorus in calling for a district program that focused just on girls.

“I didn’t think it was fair, or that it was even possible for us to have our own group,” said Jordan, a 6th-grader at West Oakland Middle School.

Her doubts were misplaced. In January, Jordan and a dozen other girls signed up for the inaugural leadership class of the African-American Female Excellence initiative, headed by Dugas and run, along with the boys’ program, out of the district’s expanded Office of Equity. Like the boys’ initiative, the goal is to boost cultural pride and academic performance, lower suspension and dropout rates and create greater understanding of the students’ singular experiences and needs.

Read the full article about Oakland Unified's initiative that focuses on African-American girls by Lee Romney at edsource.org.