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:
Reinforce 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.
Association of Historically Black Independent Schools in New York
In the year 2000, after 15 years of serving 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 forerunner, the Association for Historically Black Independent Schools. Rita McCormick is elected its 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 its first School Fair in the spring. In passing the baton to Ms. McCormick, Dr. Foster charged the organization to continue to build upon the work of its predecessor organizations 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.
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, in Queens and in the Bronx. The Queens group, organized by Sheree Palmer, 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 created as part of an effort to collaborate with the Queens group in the establishment of a Citywide Coalition of borough-based associations of schools in response to the negative impact of state and city policies. These policies relate to Charter Schools, COVID 19, and the DOE intent to umbrella all programs serving children Zero to Five in NYC. 2020.
As a reflection of the changing times, 2018 saw the establishment of the Manhattan early Childhood Alliance. ManhattanECA.org, is an interracial organization of women education entrepreneurs in northern Manhattan, of which Gail Foster is a co-founder. In 2020, ManhattanECA connected with the Queens and Bronx organizations in collaborative initiatives to support one another's schools and assure continuous opportunities for entrepreneurial women with a vision to serve children.
The Association of Historically Black Independent Schools has gone through few 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.