African American Initiative

Background image: African-American students

The History

Under the leadership of the first Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion, Gibor Basri, the Division was working to address data from the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES) that was released by UCOP March 14, 2014.  According to the survey, African American students at Berkeley said the campus climate was very poor. 

Independent of this work, the Black Student Union (BSU) developed ten demands in response to the survey. These two pieces became the basis for the African American Initiative that was endorsed by then Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in 2015. 


  • Help to provide outreach and engagement opportunities to support the vision of raising $20 million endowed and current-use scholarship funds for African American undergraduates (first year and transfer students) in partnership with private, nonprofit organizations.
  • Improve the recruitment and yield of undergraduate and graduate African American students and other underrepresented ethnic minorities.
  • Boost the social, personal, and academic support provided to current and future African American students.
  • Target a range of efforts to improve the classroom and campus climate, including training and pedagogical resources for faculty and Graduate Student Instructors.
  • Increase African American representation in Berkeley's senior management. 

  • Improve recruitment and retention, boost the professional support provided, and target efforts to improve the campus climate for African American staff and faculty. 

Steering Committee Chairs

  • Takiyah Jackson, Director, African American Student Development 

Key Stakeholders

  • African American Student Development and the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center
  • African American Studies
  • Black Student Union (BSU)
  • Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA)
  • Black Recruitment & Retention Center (BRRC)
  • Black Staff & Faculty Organization (BSFO)
  • California Alumni Association (CAA)
  • Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
  • Office of the Chancellor
  • Division of Equity & Inclusion
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • The San Francisco Foundation
  • University Development & Alumni Affairs (UDAR)


  • Thirty students make up the 2021 AAI Scholar cohort.
  • 2021 obtained Cabinet-level commitments from each Cabinet leader to advance the African American Initiative and assigned an AAI steering team member as a liaison, content expert, and accountability partner to Cabinet members to incorporate and bring to scale AAI throughout the campus.
  • 2021 - Black History and Contributions Project (in progress)
  • 2021 - Conducting a financial analysis of investments in the Black community at Cal in addressing disparities (in progress)
  • Fall Semester 2020 - AAI Scholarships were awarded to 44 African American students.
  • 2020 - In partnership with EOP, hired our first professional staff, Greg Mitchell to lead programming and advising for the AAI Scholars Program.
  • 2020 -  Started the AAI Scholar Leadership Team that is made up of two AAI/EOP Peer Academic Counselors and two program leaders.
  • 2020 - Established a Black Leaders Collective which is an advisory body of Black mid-and-senior-level leaders and faculty that advise the chancellor on institutional change levers that can transform the Black experience at Cal.
  • 2020 - Offered funding for Black Graduate Students for internship opportunities.
  • 2020 - Welcomed the largest Black freshmen class in 30 years. 
  • 2020 - In partnership with UDAR, established the Black Alumni Leaders’ Network.
  • 2019 - Convened through the faculty equity advisors program groups to discuss the inclusive classroom and how to identify and mitigate Anti-Blackness in the classroom and curriculum.
  • Fall Semester 2018 - The first AAI scholarships were awarded to 28 African American students. They will receive $8,000 each year for up to five years.
  • Six subcommittees have been formed to develop action plans and strategies for each objective of the initiative.
  • The University Development and Alumni Relations Office (UDAR) is continuing its work to establish a $20 million African American Student Scholarship Endowment.
  • The Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center opened in February 2017. It supports the needs of students in the realms of academic, social-emotional, and career development as well as cultural and community enrichment.
  • Two Black psychologists who understand the hostile campus climate have been hired.
  • Recruitment & Yield: Admissions Equity & Inclusion training.

For more information on the initiative please contact:
Takiyah Jackson
Director, African American Student Development Program

For more information about supporting the initiative please contact:
Brooke C. Hendrickson
Director of Development | Student Experience & Diversity