Melanie Acosta Awarded RTTE in the Shadow of COVID-19 Grant

Portrait of Melanie Acosta

by Teresa Crane | Friday, Oct 16, 2020

Melanie Acosta, Ph.D. , was awarded a Re-envisioning Teaching and Teacher Education in the Shadow of the COVID-19 Pandemic (RTTE) small grant from Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Her proposal, African Descent Peoples’ Community-Based Organizing for Education in the South, was one of six chosen out of 160 submissions. These grants intend to seed research projects that generate insight into the challenges that families, P-12 schools, teacher education programs, and/or communities face related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was a highly competitive grant award. The Review Committee was very impressed with your proposal,” reported Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, AERA Division K Vice President, in the award announcement.

Acosta’s research aims to cultivate a cooperative comprised of Black education-focused organizations, to document principles and perspectives embedded in Black community-based education organizations, and to investigate relevant aspects related to Black education community organizing of interest to the cooperative. This project will span two years and employ collaborative inquiry methodology to demonstrate how teachers and teacher educators can learn from the movement in Black communities toward institutionalizing school practices engineered to promote educational excellence for African descent children.

Acosta will be given the opportunity to present her work at the 2021 AERA Meeting. Information on her project will appear on the Division K website and social media and announced in AERA Highlights.

“Research that draws on the resilience, wisdom, and assets of Black communities is crucial to dismantling systems and structures of injustice in ways that are meaningful and sustaining. Unfortunately, Black children, families and communities are often positioned in research as objects without agency and power; and this framing of research has often brought about marginal positive impact within Black communities. Research is powerful and researchers have the potential to frame their studies in transformative ways…. that is where each and every researcher can do the much good for the greater good. This is one of the explicit goals of the current project and I am excited to be a part of it,” said Melanie Acosta.

Melanie Acosta is an Assistant Professor in FAU College of Education in the department of Curriculum, Culture and Educational Inquiry. Her research interests include justice-centered teacher education, African American teachers and education, non-alienating improvements in education and society, and initiatives to implement academic activities for children and families. She serves the educational community by partnering with community-based organizations and elementary schools to design and implement innovative academic and enrichment activities for children and families.

“The health and economic crises induced by COVID19 have widened existing socioeconomic disparities that caused uneven effects on the learning and educational outcomes of children of color. Dr. Acosta’s research is important in helping educators understand both the impacts of the current national crisis on the educational and developmental progress of black children and recognize the strengths and resilience of black children, their families, and communities in facilitating and equalizing educational opportunities for black and other marginalized children from different backgrounds,” said Hanizah Zainuddin, Ph.D., Chair of FAU department of Curriculum, Culture and Educational Inquiry. 

In addition, Acosta will present Educational Excellence: Race, Ethnicity and our Community on Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. via the FAU Virtual Research in Action series hosted by Florida Atlantic University Division of Research. She will discuss her research on the critical issues in teacher learning and support of African American educational excellence in elementary classrooms and local communities. You may register at