Riverside Community College District is hosting the annual Umoja XIV Conference at the Riverside Convention Center, November 9-10. The Conference, which brings together faculty, students and staff from 60-plus California and Washington community colleges, is expected to draw 1,200.
The purpose of the statewide conference is to engage students and faculty in critical dialogue and explore educational solutions. The conference will feature speakers, culturally relevant discussions, and networking opportunities for attendees. The Umoja Community Education Foundation is a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of African American students. The Umoja Community serves and promotes student success for students through a curriculum and pedagogy responsive to the legacy of the African and African American diasporas.
“The annual conference is a time to acknowledge our students and to feature the work of our practitioners who have dedicated their time to enriching the lives of our students,” Teresa Aldredge, Ed.D., Umoja board president, said.
Keynote speakers, Eric Thomas, Ph.D., and Joy DeGruy, Ph.D., will address conference attendees. Thomas is a critically acclaimed author, speaker, educator, and pastor. Born to a single teenage mother, he dropped out of high school and was homeless for two years. He met a preacher who inspired him to go back to school and eventually change lives. DeGruy is a researcher, educator and author. She is an ambassador for healing and a voice for those who have struggled in search of the past and continue to struggle through the present.
The conference will feature 39 workshops as well as a college fair that will include four-year colleges and universities from California and 18 of America's most sought-after historically Black universities. The two-day event will also feature a variety of cultural expressions. Attendees will be exposed to African traditions including drumming, beading, spoken word and other festivities.
Wolde-Ab Isaac, Ph.D., chancellor, RCCD, will address the audience. The three colleges within the District offer Umoja programs.
“RCCD is pleased to be the host district for the annual Umoja conference at this pivotal time for California community colleges,” Kristi Woods, interim dean, Languages, Humanities and Social Science, said. “Hallmark Umoja practices such as integrated and intentional counseling, community-building and a teaching pedagogy that leverages the affective domain all contribute to higher rates of persistence, retention, course success and transfer for African American students.
“We are looking forward to the energy and collective wisdom that will be shared by Umoja practitioners from throughout the state highlighting successful strategies, interventions and programs that lead to the narrowing and ultimately the elimination of the stubborn equity gaps that have persisted for far too long.”
Umoja serves 4,000 students annually with a goal of reaching 10,000 students by 2019. Since its initial funding in 2015, Umoja has doubled the number of programs at affiliated colleges. In 2018, Umoja acquired ongoing financial support from the state of California in the amount of $2.5 million. The Umoja Community Education Foundation is a not for profit 501c3 organization.