The Uzuri Think Tank is a research center seeking to understand black male educational success by finding out what works for whom under what conditions and why. The center was established in 2012 and made possible by funds from the Heinz Endowments. It takes its name from the Swahili word for “brilliance”.
The center’s initiatives emphasize black male achievement, expanding upon RMU’s existing commitment to multiculturalism and diversity while contributing to the university’s reputation for identifying and fostering talented students with great potential. Uzuri is focused on success factors and the scope of the center is purposefully wide. This leaves room for issues and research topics to emerge.
VISION AND MISSION STATEMENTS / INFRASTRUCTURE
The Uzuri’s infrastructure allows for the engagement of the following functions: (1) a space of debate—a sounding board for new thoughts, initiatives, and policies’; (2) independent research—work done with core or flexible funding that allows the researchers the liberty to choose their research questions and method; (3) consultancy—work done by commission with specific clients and addressing one or two major questions; and (4) influencing/advocacy—based on research based evidence emerging from independent research or consultancies.
The call for evidence-based programs, policies and practices can be heard across many realms, especially education. On the research side, billions of dollars are spent to generate stronger research evidence. In policy and practice, there are greater demands and incentives for the use of this evidence. Despite these efforts, critical gaps remain between research, policy, and practice. We lack essential knowledge about how to produce more useful research; how policymakers, administrators, and program managers can acquire and use that work productively; how to create a stronger infrastructure for the use and usefulness of research evidence. Yet before we can fill this gap, we must first understand it. Here’s where Uzuri Think Tank comes into play.