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African Centered Social Work Academy
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The African Centered Social Work Academy is tasked with the development of a cadre of Black social workers in becoming African Centered. This is done through the introduction of African and black history, philosophy and techniques not taught at undergraduate or graduate schools.



Academy Graduates (l-r) Dr. Gloria Batiste-Roberts, Rudolph Smith, Dr. Yvonette Powell and Sondera Malry

Our African-centered Academy is for EVERYONE in NABSW!

Dr. Colita Fairfax, NABSW Academy Chair

The purpose of the NABSW African-Centered Social Work Academy [known as The Academy] is to augment knowledge, appreciation, awareness, and application of African-centered principles, frameworks and values in social work practice. The goal of The Academy is to provide a basic theoretical and conceptual orientation to African-centered social work practice. Five objectives of the Academy are as follows; 1) To understand African-centered history, principles, concepts and values and its implications for practice, 2) To examine African American social welfare history and the contributions of Black social welfare pioneers, 3) To discuss the practice, policy and research implications of African-centered social work, 4) To engage in self-assessment as it relates to African-centered knowledge and values, and 5) To engage in applying African-centered principles, concepts and values in practice contexts.

Interested in participating in NABSW’s 2017 Academy? Contact Dr. Fairfax at , 757.823.9593, Norfolk State University, The Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, 700 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23504


Year 2016 marks 20 years of our African-centered Academy, founded under President Emeritus Leonard G. Dunston. Dr. Patricia Reid-Merritt and Dr. Thaddeus Mathis. Together they created the original curriculum and framework for NABSW’s African Centered Social Work Academy. Today, as social workers watch the painful unraveling of social crisis after social crisis unfold in our community, this type of certification provides knowledge and skills to enhance social programs, clinical and policy practice in one’s community. NABSW is the ONLY professional organization in the field of social work that prioritizes the wellbeing of the African-descended community in the Western hemisphere. Drs. Reid-Merritt and Mathis are to be commended for spearheading this Institute for the membership.


Academy learners are trained by distinguished faculty who are Sages. Sages, because in the African tradition, a sage is a wise one, who is a teacher-trainer, skilled with the ability to impact knowledge and practice-wisdom. Sages bring their knowledge in social and cultural history, cultural practices, introspection, assessments, policy intervention, advocacy, program development, etc., so that learners are imparted with the best information and skills to grow and enhance their work where they are. Sages help learners integrate theory with policy, observation with practice, outrage with advocacy, helplessness and hopelessness with introspection. 

In 1999, Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley and Dr. Morris F. X. Jeff, Jr., developed the Council of Sages, Hekima Mentoring program, Evaluation, established the administrative and infrastructure aspect of the Academy and augmented roles of graduates at our international conference. Dr. Rhonda Wells-Wilbon joined Dr. Jeff, Jr, with a focus on ritual development in 2002. Ritual is an important aspect in African development of people – as a ritual is a preparation that marks an entrance into the next phase of life.


In 2004, Dr. Thadeus Mathis and Dr. Wells-Wilbon expanded the Academy’s African-centered perspective in the curriculum. The Academy engages in rigorous preparation with learners to re-classify knowledge, cultural history and reality, organization and interventions, so that problem-solving and meeting needs can take place. Upon graduation learners are equipped to create interventions that sustain, celebrate and uphold our community practitioners in the environments where they work. In 2010, Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley rejoined Dr. Wells-Wilbon as committed leaders maintaining continuity of programming and its elements.

In 2013, Dr. Colita Fairfax, consented to serve as Co-Chair. Dr; Fairfax was trained in the Temple University School of Afrocentists, where history, culture and theory are the elements of her training. Dr. Fairfax has been a member of NABSW for a number of years, and as an active member on the local level, and founder of the Hampton Roads chapter in 2000, she see the need for our membership to receive more academic and cultural development and mentoring. I am creating a group called Regional Academy Conveners (RAC), who are past Academy graduates, who will offer academic support to learners to provide support with the completion of assignments. This differs from our Hekima mentors, who provide emotional and spiritual support, the RACs round out the circle of support for the cohort of learners. In order to capitalize upon technologically advancement in instruction, Blackboard and/or Moodle content will be included so that assignments and videos are posted, as well as a discussion board for the cohort to engage collectively. 


The next Academy will convene in January 2017 with a face to face meeting. A second face to face meeting will be in April 2017 at the 49th Annual National Conference in Washington, DC. During the face to face meeting in January, cohort dyads will be assigned and the first three modules will be engaged. Use of an online learning sites and conference calls will be utilized during February and March to maintain the integrity of the cohort and assist with continued learning of the final two modules. We will celebrate the cohort graduation during the Harambee Ceremony.

Professional social work degrees may not render the satisfaction of change creation that you want. You need something that will arm you with more, to do more, to create more, to believe truly in change. You need the Academy and NABSW needs you. 


Interested? Contact Dr. Fairfax at, 757.823.9593, Norfolk State University, The Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, 700 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23504










African Centered Academy

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Amy Jacques Garvey by Zelaika Clarke (ACA 2012) PDF (289.85 KB)  more ] Administration 2/22/2014
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