Black History Month banner.

Ross Valley Charter School teachers and parents created this colorful, fact-laden, multimedia newsletter as a teaching aid during Black History Month, February 2021. 


Fiscal sponsors find satisfaction in the success of projects under their wing, after they spin off, or when they create something special. Ross Valley Charter School in Fairfax, Calif., took Black History Month as an opportunity to shine.

The school was a San Francisco Study Center project in 2015-16 when it was seeking its charter and searching for a campus where it could practice the multiage program it had pioneered in wealthy Marin County.

“The newsletter is a resource for creating conversations about diversity.”
— Luke Duchene, Director Ross Valley Charter School

Black Lives Matter has inspired a nationwide movement, and the school created a bilingual newsletter for Black History Month to advance the conversation about racial equity and social justice.

“The newsletter is a resource for creating conversations about diversity,” says school Director Luke Duchene. Teachers and parents on the Diversity Committee produced the colorful, fact-laden, multimedia newsletter, the school’s monthly format for educational enrichment.

Erica Phillipson, a school parent and graphic designer, came up with a template to feature dozens of topics and people — historical and contemporary. Almost all are linked to interactive sources that expand exponentially on the info printed on each page.

The cover page features four 2-minute videos on the “Birth of Hip-Hop,” the Underground Railroad, the civil rights movement and the Black Panthers’ food program in Oakland.

Among other topics, the Local History page names the county’s early Black settlers from 1850 and features Marin City, built during WWII as housing for shipyard workers and currently the county’s only predominantly African American community.

Local figures worth noting include legendary rapper/poet/actor Tupac Shakur, who lived in Marin City and attended Mt. Tam High. Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, was raised in Sausalito and San Rafael. Vice President Kamala Harris was born in Oakland across S.F. Bay.

Each page is a wealth of information and resources. And the newsletter ends with a library-like list of books to learn more, much more.

DOWNLOAD THE INTERACTIVE NEWSLETTER PDF. If you distribute it, please credit Ross Valley Charter School

Geoff Link is Executive Director of the San Francisco Study Center