Literature suggests that culturally promotive curricula can counter the effect of anti-Blackness in United States (U.S.) schools by cultivating Black students’ cultural, social, and academic development and fostering learning environments in which they feel respected, connected, and invested in their school communities. However, Black students, especially young Black men, who return to school following a period of incarceration, face discrimination and numerous barriers to school reentry and engagement. While some enroll in alternative schools as a last option to earn a diploma, little is known about how curricula in these educational settings can facilitate positive school reentry experiences and outcomes among this population. As such, this intrinsic qualitative case study explored how one alternative school’s culturally promotive curriculum fosters and cultivates educational resilience among formerly incarcerated young Black men. Data collection included observations, interviews, and document reviews, and utilized a thematic analytic approach that included grounded theory techniques. Results indicate that teaching content that formerly incarcerated young Black men perceived as truthful and relevant to their lived experiences augmented their school engagement. The young men reported feeling empowered by the school’s curriculum structure and culture that allowed them to self-direct learning goals and course content toward themes that affirmed their cultural and social identities. The curriculum also appeared to facilitate positive relationships with the instructors, leading to the development of a positive school climate where the young men felt safe, appreciated, and supported. These findings highlight the important role space, place, and relationships can play in bolstering formerly incarcerated young Black men’s educational resilience through a culturally promotive curriculum in the context of an alternative school.
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