February is Black History Month, and while we know we should be learning about the historical contributions of African Americans and all people of color all year long, we are always happy to highlight the actions of African Americans during this month as well. Our theme for this month is Black Health and Wellness. This theme acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of learning and growing, it considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.

There have been many injustices when it comes to the health and wellness of Black people in the United States such as the Tuskegee Experiment and forced sterilization. However, there are also many triumphs such as the establishment of  Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have medical programs, which provide opportunities for people of color, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and others, regardless of race or ethnicity, to receive excellent education and training in the health sciences and conduct research that fosters the elimination of health disparities (i.e. Meharry Medical College).

 You can read more about this year’s theme at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Our goal is to reflect this theme in a thought-provoking manner. Throughout this month, you will see us uplift issues related to Black Health and Wellness, especially regarding PreK-12 education and issues of equity.

As we launch into Black History Month, the CDE Foundation stands firmly in its commitment to putting equity into practice. Since we wrote our Racial Equity Statement in June of 2020, we’ve made strides toward practicing the essential work of dismantling persistent systems of oppression in our education system. We promised to share more about how we are taking steps to address these institutional barriers and structural racism.

On our Celebrating Black Excellent page, you can find a variety of content to explore and view a list of actions we’ve taken over the last year to continue addressing racial inequities within education in California. The CDE Foundation understands that racial equity work requires a steadfast commitment to current and future generations of learners and leaders, and we are up for the task. Please continue reading about educators that we respect and partner with to learn more about other leaders in the field!

To celebrate and recognize pioneers that represent and serve Hispanic/Latinx communities in honor of Hispanic Heritage month, CDE Foundation would like to recognize two great partners, Families In Schools (FIS) and Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), with which we have collaborated on critical family engagement initiatives. These organizations provide knowledge and skills to families, schools and communities to effectively engage and partner with one another to ensure student success. They engage with families from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds in California and nationally. In California they serve many Hispanic/Latinx communities and English learner student populations. We recognize FIS and PIQE for their commitment to serving these communities and their mission of empowering families to partner with schools to ensure their children achieve their full potential. We applaud their focus on equity for families of Hispanic/Latinx heritage and empowering them to contribute their critical voice and cultural heritage to school communities. 

Throughout this month we will highlight pioneers of Hispanic/Latinx heritage that have made an impact on education and current examples of excellence of schools, educators and communities that are from and/or largely serve the Hispanic/Latinx community.

Families In Schools (FIS) is pleased to join the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation in celebrating the cultural richness and history of our Latinx/Hispanic communities. For more than 20 years, FIS has offered a wide range of professional development training programs and services that enable educators to partner with families for student success. Our services focus on critical issues parents need to know about to support and advocate for their children’s education and social-emotional wellness, ranging from early education and family literacy to English learners, to college awareness and preparation. Our research-based, culturally relevant, strength-based programs are delivered in a parent-friendly format and include ready-to-use tools with participant handouts in English and Spanish. 

When the MVUSD was awarded an i3 federal grant in partnership with The California League of Middle Schools, they partnered with Families In Schools to provide the family engagement work that is central to student success. As a result of this collaborative effort, 43 percent of the students who started sixth grade as English learners reclassified as Fluent English Proficient by the fall of seventh grade. Learn more about this effort in an article featured in Leadership Magazine, a publication of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). 

Since 1987, Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) has partnered with hundreds of schools and thousands of California families to build strong parent-teacher-school partnerships. PIQE serves English learners, immigrants, refugees and low-income families and provides evidence-based family engagement programs, leads innovative initiatives, maintains cultural and linguistically responsive two-way communication, and lifts parent voices to support systematic change.

The pandemic changed our usual mode of interaction. In addition to shouldering heavy worries about basic necessities, health and safety, families were asked to partner in their children’s education. Families faced many challenges due to limited technology, access or know-how to connect digitally and language and cultural barriers. This past year, with the support of CDE Foundation and partners throughout California, PIQE made more than 60,000 phone calls in a family’s home language to ensure families were connected to vital services. PIQE onboarded more than 18,000 families to online technology and continued to empower families to take an active role in their children’s education while building community and peer-to-peer networks.

PIQE families are resilient. In many cases, families shared one older mobile phone and sheltered in place with multi-generational families members. They persisted to support their children’s education and enhance their own skills. Nancy Quiroz, a recent PIQE graduate shared that when she started the PIQE classes she made a commitment and worked outside of her comfort zone to participate and graduate from the program.

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month! Pride Month, when the world’s LGBTQ+ community comes together to celebrate major wins and continue the fight for inclusion. This month is rooted in the arduous history of the queer community who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are and live out and proud. Join our team to uplift our staff, partners, and resources this month.

Reflections from our team 


Pride is often thought of in radical and revolutionary acts of defiance from the queer community to fight for equity. We think of the Stonewall Riots; we think of Christopher Street Liberation day; we think of Proposition 8 or we think of Mattachine Society. But we often forget to account for the silent acts of defiance from our educators. From classroom teachers to district administrators, our queer educators have persevered in the face of missing history in textbooks and laws preventing any acknowledgment of the queer community. They showed up and gave students worldwide a different perspective and they taught about acceptance. I remember my queer educators fondly, whether they were out or not, they paved a path for me. To our queer educators, we celebrate you, I celebrate you. – Gustavo Morales, Program Director, CA Labor Management Initiative


Partner Resources






The story of queer trauma is the one most often told; the one that pulls at our heart, forces us to wonder why, how someone could survive under such conditions. The trauma of coming out in a religious or conservative home; the trauma of being “other” in a world that at best doesn’t quite like you and, at worst, kills you for it; the intersectional trauma of your multiple identities; the risks you take every single day just to exist as your most true and most whole self. Do not be fooled though. If you care to listen you will hear the joy emanating from the celebrations; see the elation that comes from seeing a new name or gender marker on a drivers’ license; cry tears of pure bliss walking down the aisle our queer elders could only dream of walking down. These stories exist only when we give the love and space and support for all people to thrive. 

I once heard someone say that just the fact of being queer in this world is traumatizing. That resonated with me because moving through the world as it’s been told to us is inherently traumatizing to too many of us. But it’s 2021 and I know we can change. It is not traumatizing to be queer; it is traumatizing to be queer in this world. Change is needed but not impossible.  We have proven time and time again over this pandemic that we can do just that. It is our jobs, our duty, to the children in our education system to make the world a place that serves and honors every child’s whole self. We must create a world where these identities are valued, are cherished, are respected, are listened to, are loved. – Jessi Seybert, Former Operations & Events Assistant (she/they)

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.







Many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals have made strong impressions on me in numerous facets of my life.  I’m fortunate to have many AAPI friends, colleagues, and family that have openly shared their traditions, values, and ideas with me for which I’m incredibly grateful.  As the STEAM Program Director, I’ve had the privilege of getting to learn from a lot of AAPI California STEAM Symposium Community Members that continue to inspire me in many ways and below are adjectives that embody these amazing people:

Visionary – Fred Uy is the Director of Education Preparation at the California State University who is always looking to the future to ensure that we develop our future educators.  He has also been an active member of our California STEAM Symposium Steering Committee for many years where he has helped to set the direction for our keystone event

Global – Edwin Kang is STEAM Ambassador that supports student development in a variety of capacities in Mendocino County.  Additionally, he currently works with students in Asia on a regular basis and has been sharing activities, ideas, and resources from our amazing California STEAM Symposium Community with these students.

Creative – Linda Le is the Learning Communities Manager at Maker Ed and she put the power of her creativity on display in the virtual makerspace at the California STEAM Symposium by leading an amazing interactive session, “Music As Resistance, Building Your Instruments” that we are excited to share with all of you.  Learn about the power of music and its positive effects on social-emotional wellbeing while having fun and creating your own instrument!

As the STEAM Director, I strive to ensure that we create welcoming spaces that allow every participant to bring their whole self to fully engage in the STEAM community and celebrate each other.  Please join me in celebrating these amazing humans! – Glennon Stratton

Reflecting on AAPI Heritage Month is a very personal experience for me, one that connects generational trauma and miles of California highway.

I have taken many road trips up to the Eastern Sierras, family car strategically packed like a jigsaw puzzle as we hoped for snow flurries and clear roads to Mammoth or warm summer days on June Lake. Year after year, our destination was singular. But in 2018 I stopped driving by an important part of our nation’s history and finally navigated the dusty exit off 395 to Manzanar.

Now a National Historic Site, Manzanar became a “War Relocation Center” in 1942 when the federal government incarcerated over 10,000 Japanese Americans – many of them American citizens – there as one of 10 internment camps nationwide. Its official closure in 1945 neither ended the psychological and economic effects of detention on generations of Japanese American families nor the haunting betrayal of civil rights that these relocation camps represent.

Very few physical structures remain at Manzanar today, yet standing on the site is still a powerful experience. Certainly far more than acknowledging a commemorative plaque while flying by at 80 miles an hour. Standing outside in the searing dry heat or extreme cold is a disorienting experience; inside the engaging Visitor Center one experiences many other kinds of disorientation. For me, it was both an introduction and a reminder of a place I haven’t been yet.

I haven’t been to Auschwitz-Birkenau yet. It is 5,900 miles from Manzanar. But its physical presence didn’t matter that day, because I carried my family’s history with me as I read through the exhibits and felt the grit under my shoes. My grandmother somehow survived one of the deadliest Nazi concentration camps, and while I cannot ever fully understand the unique and often quite different experiences endured by our ancestors, I can understand at least one thing: I have the power to choose to be in community with others. At Manzanar, I have the power to pause, remember, and pledge that there must never be more sites like these ever again. – Jessica Howard


AAPI Resources 

May is Mental Health Month! Here is the thing though, every month, rather every day, is a mental health day. Supporting one’s mental health and wellbeing should be a lifelong venture, especially if you are an educator. 

“Some time ago, I shared my story about my struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in my research. It felt liberating to admit what was happening behind my smile. In honor of Mental Health Month, I’d like to share this story again with you now, you can read it here. I hope you know that you are not alone. Who knows, maybe you will be inspired to share your story with others too.  I am willing to bet that so many others need to know that they are not alone too. The struggle is real.” – Dr. Jacquelyn Ollison, CDEF Residency Lab Program Director.


You can also see Dr. J sharing her research in this TEDx Video



  • National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
  • The California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey system was created by the California Department of Education (CDE) in 1997 to efficiently and cost-effectively provide school districts and their partner communities with quality local data which can be used to improve student academic performance and social-emotional, behavioral, and physical health of all youth.


We used the CalSCHLS Dashboard to look at those students experiencing chronic sadness/hopelessness by sexual orientation. What is clear is that those who identify as LGBTQIA+ experience rates many times higher than those you identify as heterosexual. You can use this dashboard to get a better understanding of the various issues affecting students by race/ethnicity, gender, English language proficiency, living situation and much more. These data points are available at the state, county or district level.

A data set example:



Our recent Lunch Bites podcast guest, Patricia Lozano, has spearheaded projects at UCLA’s Center for Improving Child Care Quality, First 5 LA, and the RAND Corporation, and developed research and evaluation projects to find evidence-based best practices for teachers to work with dual language learners. As a former teacher and associate director at a child development center, Patricia is passionate about supporting the needs of early childhood educators and improving quality for young children.

In a recent #LunchBites podcast, Patricia Lozano, Executive Director of Early Edge California, joins us to explore the recently released report, Building A Coherent P-12 Education System In California. She shares her own journey from Colombia to California. She also lends her expertise to highlight family engagement strategies and the benefits of supporting our multilingual students and families.

A few years ago, as a school district EdTech Coach, I was asked to present at the California Association for Bilingual Education conference in San Francisco. I co-led a workshop on best practices using digital learning tools to engage students and make their learning visible. I had never attended the conference before, and I am not fluent in multiple languages (yet!). Nevertheless, I felt instantly welcomed into this community of educators, parents, and site leaders who support the vision of biliteracy, multicultural competency and educational equity for all students. As I listened to the keynote speakers and attended other workshops, I had a growing appreciation for the wealth of research that shows the many benefits of bilingual education. In fact, I became motivated to strengthen my own Spanish-speaking skills when the conference ended. I asked a few of my already bilingual colleagues to speak with me daily in Spanish. La práctica es necesaria y sigo aprendiendo (Practice is necessary and I continue to learn). – Karyn Warner, STEAM Program Manager (she/her)

Check out this brief video to learn more about the benefits of bilingual education!


Bilingual/Multilingual Advocacy Month Resources 

My Name My Identity  There is power in a name! By pronouncing students’ names correctly, you can foster a sense of belonging and build positive relationships in the classroom, which are crucial for healthy social, psychological, and educational outcomes. What does your name mean to you? Consider taking the pledge to pronounce your students’ names correctly! Since each of us is unique, our name is tied to our identity. We would not wish to have our names changed or mispronounced. If you believe that all students have the right to be called by the names that represent their identity and culture, begin by asking them how they would like their names to be pronounced. Agree to respect students’ names. The My Name, My Identity Campaign was created by the Santa Clara County Office of Education in partnership with the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE).

2005? 2014? 2021. What is the “appropriate” timeline to decide how to reflect your organization’s values by the way it lives a calendar year? The answer became an obvious one for me as our CEO: do what is right and respects the legacy of a diversity of leaders and communities.

Every organization can choose to honor days other than those observed as federal bank holidays. Pauses to reflect, engage, celebrate and advocate are about much more than a temporary halt of commerce. They are also an opportunity to operationalize equity in a seemingly mundane company policy.

This year marks the first that the CDE Foundation is formally observing César Chávez Day. California started in 2005. President Barack Obama proclaimed it a federal commemorative holiday in 2014. But none of us need be bound by public timelines to take bolder institutional steps, big and small. Our offices are closed on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021, but our hearts and minds are open as we celebrate César Chávez’s lasting impact on labor rights, his legacy as a beacon of Latinx social justice, and the undeniable power of grassroots organizing. – Jessica Howard, former CEO of the CDE Foundation


Sal Si Puedes, by Peter Matthiessen / In the summer of 1968 Peter Matthiessen met Cesar Chavez for the first time. They were the same age: forty-one. Matthiessen lived in New York City, while Chavez lived in the Central Valley farm town of Delano, where the grape strike was unfolding. This book is Matthiessen’s panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent working and traveling with Chavez, including to Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where Chavez began his organizing. Matthiessen provides a candid look into the many sides of this enigmatic and charismatic leader who lived by the laws of nonviolence.

Beyond the Fields, by Randy Shaw / Much has been written about Chavez and the United Farm Worker’s heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, but left untold has been their ongoing impact on 21st century social justice movements. This book describes how Chavez and the UFW’s imprint can be found in the modern reshaping of the American labor movement, the building of Latino political power, the transformation of Los Angeles and California politics, the fight for environmental justice, and the burgeoning national movement for immigrant rights.

Join our team and our partner Chevron, in celebrating International Women’s Day! Listen to Meeta Sharma-Holt, from Techbridge Girls who shares ideas on eliminating inequity in STEM for girls from low-income communities in a #CASTEAM20 session!