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NYC Mayor David Dinkins  in Harlem at the John Henrik Clarke House, with Toussaint Scholars enrolled in Historically Black Independent Schools in New York City.  c1999



Mission: To help parents find and access good schools for their children in the public and private sector and to support efforts to create them.

Scholarship Fund: The Toussaint Institute Fund's premier initiative was its Early Intervention Scholarship Program. This program identified elementary school age boys of African descent who were experiencing ongoing failure in the public schools. Through fundraising, it was able to award these boys scholarships to attend Historically Black Independent Schools. The children were placed in these schools, did well, and their progress was monitored over the years.


The Toussaint Institute was founded in 1988 by Gail Foster, Ed.D.. It legally incorporated as the Toussaint Institute Fund with the vision of raising the resources to one day establish an independent school.


During its active years Toussaint served as a scholarship fund, a resource center for parents in search of good public and private schools, a participant in the school choice movement, and an organizer, advocate, and documenter of historically black independent schools.  By the time it ceased mission centered operations  in 2003, it had through its documentation, organizing work, advocacy, and marketing efforts, successfully raised the visibility of  the historically black independent schools of New York City and nationwide.  


Its founder was supported in doing this work by dozens of schools, educators, and philanthropists around the country. During its 13 years of continuous operation, the Toussaint Institute Fund produced and published numerous scholarly and community education articles and booklets, and held conferences and symposiums for educators and churches, and a major annual Education Expo for parents.


The data it collected on the academic performance of Historically Black Independent Schools in New York was published in City Schools, edited by former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch. A study of these schools was also published in the Journal of Negro Education.  


In the early 1990s, Dr. Foster toured the Deep South with her mother, Evelyn Watts Foster, and the two of them collected data on historically Black boarding schools, some of which date back to the days of Booker T. Washington, and many of which have since closed. That data will eventually be made available through this website. Interested parties should contact Dr. Foster. 


NYC's Wealth of HIstorically Black Independent Schools, Gail Foster

Congressional Testimony, Educational Options for Black Children in CAPE

Gail Foster

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In 2000, the Toussaint Institute was asked to contribute its research on Historically Black Independent Schools to a Johns Hopkins publication on New York City schools. Chapter 12 of this book details the history of schools established to serve Black children going back to 1704. The chapter, authored by Gail Foster, and inclusive of black educators'  perspectives on the Oceanhill-Brownsville civil rights struggle provided by Jitu Weussi and others, would not have been published in its entirety without the encouragement and support of one of Dr. Foster's mentors, author and civil rights law professor Derrick Bell. Data collected on Historically Black Boarding Schools was not included in this publication, but is part of the archives of the Toussaint Institute Fund. This valuable data on heritage schools that no longer exist, awaits interest and funding to be published and shared. 

The Directory of HBIS listed over 70 independent schools elementary and secondary schools in NYC, and six boarding schools nationwide. The data base was researched and compiled by Gail Foster. Three of the schools are highlighted in her chapter on the book City Schools. Her data on Black boarding schools has yet to be published. The first edition was published in 1989 and the final edition, which inlcuded charter schools, in 2000. 

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