MFEI Program Manager Arianna Morales accepted into the Women's Foundation of California's Women's Policy Institute


In March Arianna Morales, MFEI Program Manager was accepted into the 2018 cohort of Women’s Policy Institute fellows as part of a team of three community leaders representing Alameda County (pictured left to right: Ayana Ivery, Communications Manager at Impact Hub Oakland, Arianna Morales, MFEI Program Manager, and RocQuel Johnson, Public Affairs for CalTrans). The year long leadership and public policy fellowship will coach the six teams from across the state to learn the process of local policy development, and propose policy that will seek justice in one of the following areas: economic justice, environmental justice, gender justice, trauma justice or criminal justice.

Arianna’s team came together through the organizing of the 2017 Bay Area Breaking the Silence Town Hall for Girls and Women of Color. The team applied under the Economic Justice strand of the fellowship and seeks to improve the educational experiences of African American girls in middle school in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). In 2015-16 OUSD’s Data Office documented that over 70% of African American 8th grade girls were not “high school ready” based on a combination of low GPAs, course grades, attendance and high suspensions.

Suspensions of African American female students are highest among all girls in the district, and third highest across all race and gender categories after African American males and Latino males. Across elementary, middle and high school suspensions, the rate for African American girls was highest in middle school at 10.8% in AY2016-17. The team is working closely with the Oakland Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan Advisory Group and the African American Female Excellence program. The policy the team will propose will be ultimately be informed by AAFE’s findings from focus groups and interviews they conducted with African American girls in elementary, middle and high school in OUSD. Arianna brings to the team her and MFEI’s expertise and mission for advancing systemic change and education equity, and the tools of continuous improvement to achieve it. She is eager to bolster these skills with the Institute’s training in local policy and advocacy to empower all girls through their education to be economically successful.

Alicia Dixon