Gevonee Ford, January 12in Washington, DC was recognized as a Champion of Change.
In the early 1990’s, Ford directed an initiative called the Cultural Beginnings Project, which looked at the early childhood development of Black children. It was a collaborative partnership between parents, childcare workers, youth, government agency representatives, and community elders. Through this inquiry we began to understand the importance of African culture and identity development in our children as they were being prepared to venture out into the world. Out of our work in Cultural Beginnings there began to emerge a community vision of the cultural education our children would need to not only be successful, but also to be community minded as they grew. Gevonee emerged as a guardian of this vision; someone who would consistently remind our community of what we wanted for our children.
Ford also led the development of the Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD) as its founder and serves as its executive director. NdCAD has been in existence since 1997 and has been a way to institutionalize our community vision. The organization’s mission is to strengthen important connections within communities of African descent that help prepare our children for success in school and life. NdCAD uses a culturally based approach and provides evidence-based literacy programs and services for families. The organization works with parents, helping them build strong literacy foundations in the home and provides after school tutoring programs for kindergarten to 8th grade students. The organization also involves a broad range of community partners and educators to promote the importance of reading and cultural development and provides free children’s books to families throughout the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. Each year, NdCAD works with hundreds of children and their families and independent evaluations of the organization’s programs demonstrate improved reading proficiency and learning confidence amongst students and increased reading levels and academic performance in school as well as increased parental and community involvement in the education and schooling process of children. Overall, NdCAD’s work is about building and strengthening community connections that help our children understand and build upon the legacy of their cultural heritage and equip them with academic tools for success.
The impact of Ford’s work through NdCAD has been felt throughout the Twin Cities with so many families coming to realize they have the capacity to improve their lives and the lives of others. NdCAD is also growing and is planning to release the first ever comprehensive resource for Black children’s literature with guided reading levels. The Imhotep Science Academy, which is a culturally driven youth science initiative, has recently become part of NdCAD, and there are plans to launch a youth participatory action research program for high school students this fall. Ford has always been able to find and develop the expertise and resources within our community so that we are able to thrive and help each other as African descent people living in the United States.
Gevonee EuGene Ford has worked in the field of early childhood care and education for the past twenty-eight years, specializing in program development, administration, and policy. He has been at the forefront of progressive education in Minnesota as a teacher, trainer, program director, and community organizer. Ford is the Founder and Executive Director of Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD), a non-profit family education center located in Saint Paul, Minnesota that was established in 1997 and is focused on education and community revitalization in communities of African descent. Ford’s mission through NdCAD is to strengthen important cultural connections within African communities that help prepare children for success in school and life. Ford has continued a tradition of Black leadership by working with hundreds of children and their families each year to increase reading proficiency and learning confidence amongst students and increased reading levels and academic performance in school as well as increased parental and community involvement in the education of children.