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School of Public Policy Introduces the Floyd Black Fellowship

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In a few short months, School of Public Policy (SPP) student Floyd Black had a profound impact on classmates, school staff, and faculty. Possessing a sharp intellect and a passion for serving those with the deepest needs—particularly in the area of education—Black's potential seemed limitless.

His passing in October 2020, was felt strongly by all who knew him—not only because of who he was but also because of who he appeared destined to be. At SPP, as a program that prepares the next generation of public leaders, we are saddened not only by the loss of Black as a student and friend, but we also feel particular remorse for the people and communities he would have lifted up.

Following conversations with classmates, staff, and his family, we are excited to announce the creation of the Floyd Black Fellowship program—an annual scholarship program of $2,500 per candidate supporting a summer internship for an SPP student to serve at the Crete Academy in South Los Angeles.

Founded more than a decade ago by SPP alum, and nationally recognized education reformer, Dr. Hattie Mitchell (MPP '12), this TK–6th-grade school serves students who are homeless or living in deep poverty. The stated vision of Crete Academy is that "One day, the cycle of poverty will end and children who once were homeless and living in poverty will be leaders of this world."

The inaugural cohort was selected among a number of applicants that submitted a 1,500-word essay.  Floyd Black Fellow Rosemary Gutierrez, stated "the Floyd Black Fellowship is an opportunity to serve in an area where much help is needed. I have seen the inequalities that exist in the education sector and feel that it is my moral obligation to give back to a community that parallels the one I grew up in. I want to be an example to those with hardships and show them that they too can overcome these challenges through education."

Working under the leadership of Mitchell, the fellows will work on education policy research and development related to the needs of the Crete Academy.  Floyd Black Fellow Victoria Amponsah shared, "I was initially drawn to the fellowship because of Dr. Mitchell's focus on helping the most vulnerable, impoverished children gain a solid education through Crete Academy. The fellowship also aligns with my public policy career goal of working in education policy to serve underprivileged and underrepresented minorities. I am looking forward to gaining further insight into the core problems and research ways to bridge the education inequity gap." 

Also, an inaugural fellow, Leslie Amaya-Yanez shared, "as a native of Los Angeles and a product of Los Angeles public schools, I am excited and feel lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to work alongside people who care for the children and the future of this city as much as I do." 

“In such a short time, Floyd had a profound influence on this program—including his classmates, faculty, and staff,” noted dean Pete Peterson. “Working with his fellow students and one of our distinguished alums, I’m so delighted to carry on Floyd’s commitment to the underserved through this fellowship,” he added.

“We look forward to working with SPP interns who embody the values shared by both Crete Academy and Floyd Black, to advance education and opportunities for all,” concluded Mitchell.