Kingmakers of Oakland Receives $4.8M from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Transform Learning Environments


Kingmakers of Oakland is on a mission to improve the lives of Black boys and build a stronger education system for all students.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is committing $4.8 million to bring their comprehensive, research-backed school improvement approach to more schools and districts across the country, according to a release.

Kingmakers works hand-in-hand with districts to help them get a full understanding of their community’s unique needs. They partner on building the capacity of schools to make improvements, helping teachers form deep relationships with students that ultimately increase learning and life outcomes.

“In Oakland, Kingmakers established a strong track record of improving student outcomes,” said Sandra Liu Huang, head of education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “They are a national leader in helping school districts apply research to transform the culture and conditions of a school to increase student success across the board.”

Launched as the African American Male Achievement program (AAMA) in the Oakland Unified School District in 2010, Kingmakers later became an independent nonprofit.

A 2019 study of AAMA by researchers at Stanford University showed that students who participated in Kingmakers’ programs were more likely to graduate high school. The same study also showed a positive impact on students who didn’t participate in a specific Kingmakers program, but who benefited from school-wide improvements as a result of their school’s partnership with Kingmakers.

Kingmakers’ comprehensive approach is grounded in six drivers of systems change: culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum; Black male teacher recruitment, training and retention; youth voice and leadership; community and family engagement; narrative change; and policy change. Within this framework, their focus is shaped by local needs. From its inception, Kingmakers has used listening exercises and assessments to design programming tailored to each district in order to foster lasting change.

Christopher Chatmon, founder and CEO of Kingmakers of Oakland observes, “Changing systems and changing narratives takes multiracial, intergenerational and cross-functional collaboration among educators, students, families, communities and policymakers. When we combine their knowledge with what the research tells us about the type of environments that help students thrive, then we can truly build school cultures that set every young king–and all students–up for success.”

Standing with a growing community of partners, CZI is working to equip teachers with the research, tools, and partners they need to center students’ well-being in support of academic achievement and success. For more information about how CZI and our grant partners are supporting student and teacher well-being, visit chanzuckerberg.com/education/well-being.

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