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Project focuses on bias affecting black males

CMSD, in partnership with the Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights-University Heights school districts, is sponsoring the Promises Kept Project (Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and Life) from Sunday through Tuesday.

The program consists of two parts: a free screening of the award-winning documentary “American Promise” on Sunday, followed by two days of workshops for teams of students and educators.

Parents and other members of the community are invited to view “American Promise,” which documents the educational journeys of two middle-class black males from kindergarten through high school. The screening is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday in the Small Auditorium at Shaker Heights High School, 15911 Aldersyde Dr., Shaker Heights.

The film, which received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, raises questions about race, gender, socioeconomic class, parenting style and unconscious bias.

After the movie, 1980 Shaker Heights graduate Hilary Beard will lead a question-and-answer period. Beard is a co-author of “Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life.” The book, which recently won a NAACP Image Award, is a companion to the documentary. It contains research about closing the African-American male achievement gap as well as practical strategies for parents.

Student teams from the three districts will gather Monday at the Delisle Options Center in Cleveland Heights. They will discuss topics that include bias and inequality in the classroom, negative media stereotypes, how those stereotypes affect learning and ways that students can challenge “toxic learning environments.”

Educators will meet Tuesday at CMSD’s Ginn Academy. They will learn about and discuss “American Promise,” the research from “Promises Kept,” how implicit bias plays out in the classroom and strategies for reducing unconscious bias.

To learn more about “American Promise,” go to: