In March 1999, the Institute for the Transformation of Learning (ITL) at Marquette University convened the First Annual Symposium, a meeting of 150 Black people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to discuss parental choice and the educational challenges facing disadvantaged Black families in America. At that time, the charter school movement was growing, and parental choice was gaining currency among progressive policymakers and at the grassroots. Symposium participants focused on the need for greater choice and better options within the Black community, and agreed that a national organization of Black America for Black America would best advance this cause. Consequently, December 3-5, 1999, 50 dedicated Black leaders gathered in Washington, DC, for the organizing meeting of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). The founders adopted the name of the organization, the mission statement and BAEO's general principles.
The Second Annual Symposium, hosted again by ITL, drew approximately 350 attendees, 90 of whom met subsequently to continue organizing BAEO. At this meeting, participants reviewed the first draft of the organization's bylaws and elected Dr. Howard Fuller as President of the Board (the title was later changed to Chair of the Board). A 29-member board formed and met for the first time on June 17, 2000. The organization officially launched with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on August 24, 2000.
BAEO has grown to become the preeminent national organization for those who support high-quality educational options for low-income and working-class Black children. With its national office in Washington, DC, BAEO has established chapters and mobilization sites in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Missouri, Ohio, and Philadelphia; and the organization has active operations in the southern states.
Since its formal launch in 2000, BAEO has been at the forefront of some of the most important victories on the parental choice front.
BAEO continues to inform, inspire, and empower at the Annual Symposium, which has become the largest gathering of parental choice advocates and education reformers in the country. Read more information about other programs and activities that augment BAEO's local advocacy and outreach work.