Institute for Regenerative Futures
The Institute for Regenerative Futures is an intergenerational community-based collective of Black and other Indigenous co-conspiratorial educators, elders, healing practitioners, memory workers (researchers) and beloved community. Our collective emerged through timely intersections of community engagement, education, and research that highlight the psychological, emotional, and physiological impacts of anti-blackness and colonization.
We are connected in our efforts to counter the forces that destabilize our self-determination and we are rooted in educational pathways towards futures that are in the right relation with our ancestral and cultural ways of being and knowing. We seek to regenerate futures through memory, research, grounded practice and service.
Community Responsive Collective (CRC)
CRC is committed to grounded practice and service; we build and connect with elders, young people, grassroots collectives and autonomous community spaces (“Network of supports”) in an effort to support and sustain community-centered praxis (care work).
This year, the CRC is engaged in a listening campaign with residents of the East San Jose community with the goal to better understand how San Jose State University can strengthen its support of and bonds with residents of East San Jose. Research fellows will meet monthly with community stakeholders to listen critically to the concerns of East San Jose residents; the project leverages financial support and university accountability from San Jose State University to support the existing community-based programs that protect and extend the life of the rich, culturally dynamic milieu that is East San Jose.
Black Futures Lab (BFL)
As a means to seed and tend to our protection, BFL supports ongoing research and memory that disrupts the policies and practices compromising Black futures.
This year, the BFL is developing a Black Wellness Framework to disrupt racial/ethnic health disparities and improve perinatal outcomes in an Oregon-based birth initiative program.
The Unschooling Caucus (TUC)
TUC works with dreamers who understand the limitations of schooling. With this foundational tenet, TUC advances the movement for school abolition and enlivens educational pathways that support youth to embrace their sacred purpose and self-determined futures.
This year, the UC is working with educators in the San Francisco Bay Area to observe the relationship between teacher’s health, their classroom practices and their students’ wellness when selected teachers are immersed in a year-long series of monthly health-based workshops. One way the study measures the efficacy of the health-based educational intervention for teachers is through the study and measurement of telomeres. Chronic alterations in the stress response can lead to high and sustained levels of stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) that result in accelerated cellular aging and thus the shortening of telomere length (Geronimus et al. 2006). Telomeres are the protective caps on chromosomes that guard against cell deterioration. Research links the lengthening of telomeres to compassion based practices (Hoge et. al, 2013). In addition to telomere measurement, the study will analyze changes in classroom practice, teacher self-perception of wellness as well as youth perception of wellness over the course of one academic year.
IRF Research Leads
Introducing our Research Fellows
Dr. Emerald Templeton
Dr. Emerald Templeton is an equity-minded scholar-practitioner with expertise in organizational leadership, counseling, and student affairs. Her work spans across strategic planning and program management, instruction, and research with values deeply rooted in care, compassion, and commitment to centering marginalized students. She currently serves as an administrator over educational partnerships at a California Community College where she focuses on strategic programming to support success for in-transition and hyper-marginalized students. Her scholarship focuses on the logics of valuing diversity, Black feminisms, and women facing intersectional oppressions.
We live in the hub of our country's technological giants. Yet, there is a clear disparity
between a privileged population that thrives in Santa Clara County and a larger population
that faces insurmountable obstacles with fortitude and resolve as individuals strive
toward achieving personal prosperity. I believe that everyone should be afforded equitable
opportunities to pursue their ambitions through higher education.
I am a proud first-generation Mexican American from Tecolotes, Baja California. I became a U.S. citizen to exercise my right to vote for initiatives that will improve the living conditions for all Californians, regardless of their resident status. I completed the credential program at San Jose State University and have returned to earn my Masters in Education. I currently teach social studies in a culturally rich middle school in Milpitas. My students examine our country’s history of social inequities and the civil rights leaders who advocated for social transformation, as well as those who continue to inspire us today. When I see my students, I see effective community leaders who organize with purpose, entrepreneurs who aren't afraid to dream big, and kind individuals who dare to demonstrate empathy.
During her youth, Eden saw how quickly the effects of gentrification–due to the influx of corporations in the Bay Area–changed her once multi generational and vibrant community. Eden became even more grounded in building equitable communities by the educators, healers, and caretakers who surrounded her. During her undergraduate years, she worked as a case manager for individuals experiencing vehicular houselessness and further developed her equity-oriented mindset. During this time, she also recognized some of the limitations of a racial lens to service provision for Black individuals seeking their own support. With this, she is excited to continue her service to Black people.
Melan Ali White
I am someone who often finds myself drawn to and affiliated with justice and liberation centered work. I want black, brown, and queer folk to have futures rooted in healing, love, and community and I try to move through life with those things at the center. I am a writer, relationship builder, and a person who holds space for folks to come as they are.
Marcelo Clark is an Afro-Puerto Rican, Filipino, from the Bay Area. He received his BA in Sociology and African American Studies from UCLA. His work interrogates whiteness within Afro-diasporic religious spaces in Los Angeles. His spiritual grounding and work with community organizations has built his vision for equitable communities and justice.
Alina Esperanza Torres
Alina is an undergraduate student at San Jose State University pursuing two degrees, one in Sociology and one in Chicanx Studies. She is very passionate about ethnic studies and hopes to pursue it beyond SJSU by becoming an ethnic studies teacher.
As an Ethnic Studies teacher at a public high school in the Oakland Unified School District, I constantly find myself negotiating the contradictions of teaching liberating content in a system that requires the use of carceral logics and dehumanizing pedagogies in order to “run a classroom.” I originally found myself in the classroom because I was interested in how our literacy journeys can shape our identities as well as how learning how to “language” in specific ways can be consequential to our life trajectories. However, my work mentoring students in the Boston Public School District, as a master’s student in Language and Literacy Education at BU and now as an English/Ethnic Studies teacher in OUSD has continued to bring me back to larger questions about the systems in which we are asked to learn and build relationships with youth. As an IRF fellow I hope to be in community with others in which we center relation and care in the work of researching and resisting the experiences created by the systems we live under.
Sheryll Marie McDaniels
Sheryll is the daughter of Dorothy and the granddaughter of Artelia. She hails from a line of strong, entrepreneurial women who dared to dream of a better life. Sheryll recently realized her dream of completing her degree. She graduated magna cum laude from UC Merced in May 2022, with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. Sheryll is currently in the process of applying to graduate school, with the goal of becoming a school therapist in underserved communities.
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