Increasing Representation and Achievement in Education for Black San Diegans – A Conversation with Tamara Craver

At Reality Changers, Tamara Craver works day-to-day with the students and families most impacted by COVID-19.
At Reality Changers, Tamara Craver works day-to-day with the students and families most impacted by COVID-19.

Established in September 2020, The San Diego Foundation Black Community Investment Fund prioritizes and invests in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans. Co-founded with the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, the fund will focus grantmaking on four key pillars impacting economic prosperity among Black San Diegans: Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Housing.

This four-part blog series will examine each pillar with the fund’s advisory council experts.

Chairperson of the Education pillar Tamara Craver shares her insight below.


Henrietta Goodwin

Henrietta Goodwin was the very first Black graduate from the State Normal School of San Diego (now San Diego State University). But if you were a local San Diegan reading The San Diego Union or examining the school’s roster of graduates at the time, that fact would be unknown.

Although Goodwin attended the school sporadically starting in 1908, working alongside her sister occasionally as a domestic servant to support her studies, an attendance ledger and her registration record card later indicated that she did indeed graduate on January 30, 1913, despite not being listed publicly.

“Representation matters in all of our pillars,” emphasized Tamara Craver, CEO of Reality Changers and chairperson of the Education pillar of the Black Community Investment Fund at The San Diego Foundation.

Nancy Maldonado, President & CEO of Chicano Federation of San Diego County, recently featured Craver in a San Diego Union-Tribune article, “Someone San Diego Should Know”. The article highlights her impact through Reality Changers, a local nonprofit organization that prepares youth to become first-generation college graduates and agents of change in their communities, aligning perfectly with Craver’s role as chairperson of the Education pillar.

This pillar of The Black Community Investment Fund – one of four pillars identified to increase economic prosperity for Black San Diegans – aims to increase representation and ensure equitable access to and engagement in the educational system for Black San Diegans.

Craver joined the initiative to increase generational wealth for Black San Diegans as a Black Community Investment Fund advisory council member after a fruitful conversation with Pamela Gray Payton, The San Diego Foundation Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer and Vice President of Community Impact.

“I was very impressed with how well things were already planned and the benchmarks of success for a population of students in an area that has been underserved,” she shared.

The Necessity of Educational Equity for Black San Diegans

“All of the other pillars are integral to creating equitable access to employment, homebuying…but I strongly believe that the foundation starts with education in all forms,” Craver emphasized. She believes that there is a strong correlation between educational access and success in the other areas of opportunity that The Black Community Investment Fund seeks to address.

One of the glaring disparities in educational access that Craver mentioned is the lack of representation in Black teachers, principals and vice principals in San Diego County school districts .

According to recent data from the California Department of Education, San Diego County’s public school teachers are more than 62 percent white, despite more than 70 percent of San Diego’s student body being people of color. This data also includes charter schools, which run independently of school districts.

A 2016 study in the Economics of Education Review shows that white teachers were 40 percent less likely than Black teachers to predict a Black student graduating from high school. White teachers were also 30 percent less likely than Black teachers to anticipate a Black student graduating from college.  

Black students are more likely to get good grades, graduate high school and pursue a higher education when they have at least one Black teacher, another study shows. Nicholas Papageorge, co-author of both studies, says that, “teacher expectations matter” as Black students are more likely to succeed when they see themselves represented in leadership positions.

“Our committee agreed that focusing on recruitment of Black teachers and increased ways to educate non-Black teachers on ways to support Black students will be paramount for success,” Craver shared. “Attracting more Black educators to our schools will enhance the positive experiences students can have in the classroom.”

A Hopeful Future for Black Representation in Education

For Craver, helping students get accepted into college is the minimum. Students, especially first-generation students, need support beyond graduation to secure internships, apply for jobs and navigate their careers.

One of the goals of the Education pillar is to establish an education endowment, with dollars focused on a holistic approach to supporting educational success for Black students pursuing a higher education and careers beyond graduation.

The Education pillar of the Black Community Investment Fund is deeply connected to the success of the other pillars, Craver says; more Black educated community members means an increased presence of Black San Diegans in the workforce and in entrepreneurship opportunities, thus driving increased home ownership and generational wealth in the Black community.

Craver said she will know that the Education pillar is on track to achieve its goals when Black parents and families are more engaged in their students’ learning; when there is an increased presence of Black educators in San Diego County; and when non-Black educators are aware of and actively supporting the needs of Black students.

“I’ve committed my professional career to supporting students who are underserved and underrepresented to have access to opportunities to obtain a college degree,” shared Craver.

Through Reality Changers and the Black Community Investment Fund, Craver’s commitment to this honorable work continues.


About Tamara Craver

Craver moved from Ohio to California to attend UC Los Angeles when she realized that shoveling snow was not something she wanted to do anymore. While in Los Angeles, Craver worked at The Posse Foundation, and served as the Director for 12 years. Under her leadership, the Los Angeles office dramatically increased the number of students it prepared for and mentored through its 10 partner colleges and universities. She established enduring relationships with partner colleges across the nation.

In July 2019, Craver moved from Los Angeles to San Diego to start her present role as the President & CEO of Reality Changers. Her experience in nonprofit fundraising and executive leadership spans 20 years. She is the proud mother of a 23-year-old son that is working and living in Los Angeles after attending Tulane University.