Association of Historically Black Independent Schools
in New York
Mission: To serve the community of black independent schools in New York State or independent schools founded by African Americans in New York State. Through networking, coordinated action, and development of a shared agenda, we will empower our schools to participate fully in the non-public school community.
As an organized group, we will participate in an integral way in the development and implementation of New York State Education Department’s policies and activities as relevant to our needs.
To have an effective presence at the state level we will:
Reinforced on State policy, planning and action.
Analyze and participate in the development of policy.
Serve as disseminators of information.
Communicate and network.
Develop our membership.
Support and empower one another.
Be Advocates for black independent schools and the children we serve.
In the Year 2000, after 15 years of serving schools which she termed Historically Black Independent Schools, in New York through organizing, promoting, and advocacy, Dr. Gail Foster, of the Toussaint Institute Fund sought to step down from this role and pass the baton. That same year, she documented 70 Historically Black Independent Schools in New York City serving approximately 12,000 students and reported on their academic performance. See City Schools by Ravitch and Viteritti.
Not wanting to abandon these schools as she turned her focus toward parenting, Dr. Foster turned to Rita McCormick, principal of St. Paul’s Community Christian School to asset her in revitalizing the organization of schools and giving the schools new focus.
Dr. Foster initiates a meeting on March 20, 2001, held at the St. Paul's School. She invites the Director of the SED Non-Public Schools Office (Hank Hogan) and the Chair of the Commissioner's Advisory Council on Non Public Schools (Rabbi Schloss) to hep persuade schools of the importance of re-organizing and establishing their place in the non-public school arena. Over 15 schools send representatives. She recommends that the group elect Rita McCormick as their founding President.
In 2001 the first planning meeting for the new organization is called by Rita McCormick on April 3rd. Nine schools are represented and collectively they agree to adopt the name used by it's Toussaint Institute fore-runner, the Association for Historically Black Independent Schools. Rita McCormick is elected it's first president.
On January 21, 2004, Foster secures the sponsorship of Smart Tuition, and AHBIS holds it's first Principal's Power Luncheon, at the Brooklyn Marriott (13 schools were represented) and sponsors it's first School Fair in the spring.
In 2007 Rita McCormick turned leadership over to Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood of St. Paul's Community Church. That year, Dr. Youngblood, Ms. McCormmick, Sheree Palmer visited Gail Foster in her new location in New Lebanon, New York to discuss the organization's history and plan for it's future at a time when the emergence of charter schools would inevitably place pressure on historically black independent schools.
By 2015 the organization had become inactive and it lay dormant for many years. It was revitalized in 2017 and 2020. The organization was revitalized in Queens and the Bronx. The Queens group includes day care centers and N - 8 schools and operates under the name Directors in Support of Children and Families. The Bronx Association of Historically Black Independent Schools was revitalized in the Bronx. Both organizations are actively focused on the impact of state and city policies as relates to Charter Schools, COVID, and the DOE intent to umbrella all programs serving children Zero to Five in NYC.
In passing the baton to Ms. McCormick, Dr. Foster charged the organization to continue to build upon the work of it’s predecessor organizations (see history) by staying informed about the school choice movement, maintaining an active representation on the Commissioner’s Advisory Council on Non-Public Schools, as well as on the Washington based Council on American Private Education, and maintaining relationships with other African American organizations in the school choice movement.
The Association of Historically Black Independent Schools has gone through three iterations in the past 30 years, but the organization of independent schools in New York, operated by African Americans to serve their communities has a history that dates to 1831. See history.
Association of Historically Black Independent Schools in New York