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.  

City Schools Book Cover.png

In 2000 the Toussaint Institute was asked to contribute it's 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 it's 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 6 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. 

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

Congressional Testimony, Educational Options for Black Children in CAPE



The Toussaint Institute was founded in 1988 by Dr. Gail Foster.  It legally incorporated as the Toussaint Institute Fund as a stage in achieving a long-range objective of establishing an independent school.  


During it's 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 it's documentation, organizing work, advocacy, and marketing efforts, successfully raised the visibility of  the historically black independent schools of New York City and nation-wide.  


It's founder, Dr. Gail Foster, 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 1990's 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. 

Published papers produced by the Toussaint Institute.

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.


Directory of Historically Black Independent Schools: The phrase Historically Black Independent Schools was coined by Dr. Gail Foster to describe the wealth of schools founded by African American educators and clergy.  In 1989 the Toussaint Institute  published the Greater New York's first Directory of these schools, which sold thousands of copies over three editions and over ten years.  It included day schools in New York and boarding schools on the east coast.  This directory created visibility for the schools both within and without the African American communities of New York.  Dr. Foster also assisted the Institute for Independent Education in creating a national directory of such schools, touring cities around the country in search of such schools and connecting them with the IIE.

Education Expo:  The Toussaint Institute Fund took the lead in making information on quality public and private school options for boys and girls available to African American parents, particularly those in low and low- middle income brackets, traditionally left out of the information loop.  The annual Education Expo was attended by thousands of parens city wide and was the only place where these parents could access information on the best public and private and Catholic schools in one place.  Usually held at the Norman Thomas high school, and referred to by the deputy commissioner of the NYS Education department referred to it as the largest parent gathering in the state.  It was the fore-runner to the public high school expos now held by the NYC Department of Education.  

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