New endowment supports BIPOC educational leaders

SUNY New Paltz is pleased to announce the creation of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Endowment for the Development of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Educational Leaders.


Ilyasah Shabazz ’85 (Biology) with her parents, Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

In honor of Dr. Betty Shabazz, a model educator and fearless facilitator of change leadership, this endowment will support talented BIPOC educators and cultivate diverse leadership in schools, districts, and colleges in New York State and beyond.

The College seeks to secure three to five years of support to launch the program while pursuing greater endowment funding valued at $1 million or more.

“This Endowment will support the School of Education and the College in our shared mission to prepare future educators to support the diverse learning needs of children in the 21st century, especially in communities that have been historically and disproportionately underfunded,” said Erica Marks, vice president for development & alumni relations and executive director of the SUNY New Paltz Foundation.

SUNY New Paltz’s connection with Betty Shabazz is through her daughter, esteemed alumna Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz ’85 (Biology). A noted educator and author, she is one of the nation’s leading advocates for ensuring that the history of Black, Indigenous, People of Color is included in every aspect of our educational systems and work. Ilyasah has generously served as a member of the College’s Soaring Higher Campaign Cabinet and continues to show up for our students, engaging in direct conversation with them; joining the President’s Roundtable luncheon; and participating in the Distinguished Speaker Series, where she appeared with Emmy-Award winning journalist and talk show host, Janus Adams ’67 (Theatre Arts).

“Inspired by my mother’s legacy, this endowment will help ensure that children across the state see themselves reflected in the people who lead their schools,” said Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz.


“Inspired by my mother’s legacy, this endowment will help ensure that children across the state see themselves reflected in the people who lead their schools."
Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz ’85 (Biology)

Funds generated by the Dr. Betty Shabazz Endowment will support a three-pronged approach to fostering culturally sustaining leadership:

1) The appointment of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Visiting Academic: a noted BIPOC/underrepresented professional who will lead public events, graduate student seminars and scholars’ internship project;

2) Identifying a cohort of Hudson Valley teachers from underrepresented groups to pursue school leadership careers via the Certificate in Advanced Study in Educational Administration at SUNY New Paltz as Dr. Betty Shabazz Scholars; and

3) Forging new partnerships with Hudson Valley schools to help identify potential leaders, provide training and transform the curriculum for a new generation.

“This Endowment will build upon the strong work of our faculty and staff at SUNY New Paltz who strive to be leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said President Donald P. Christian. “The School of Education at New Paltz is at the forefront partnering with districts to fill the need for a new generation of principals, superintendents and other school leaders throughout New York.”

The Endowment was announced at NYC’s Shabazz Center on May 19, during Malcolm X’s birthday celebration, and in honor of Dr. Betty Shabazz’s birthday on May 28. The Shabazz Center is a cultural and educational institution that harnesses the legacies of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz to incubate social, racial, and global justice movements. The Center partners with community organizers and educators and facilitates cultural activations meant to catalyze the next generation of leaders in the movement for global racial equity and justice.




A hero in her own right, Dr. Betty Shabazz was the widow of civil-rights leader Malcolm X. After his sudden death, this Black mother of six girls single-handedly raised her daughters while furthering her education with a Master of Arts in Public Health Education from Jersey City State College and a Ph.D. in Education Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Shabazz joined New York’s Medgar Evers College as an assistant professor in 1976, becoming the cultural attaché for the university. Throughout her life she fought for the rights of others and, by example, showed how one can transcend in the face of adversity.



Founded in 1976, the SUNY New Paltz Foundation works to enrich the quality of academic life at New Paltz by raising private contributions. Gifts to the Foundation enhance the teaching, learning and discovery that takes place on campus, and allow New Paltz to enrich the cultural, economic, and social fabric of the Mid-Hudson region. Visit the SUNY New Paltz Foundation Board online for more information.



Rooted in the abiding belief in Black power, possibility, and sovereignty, The Shabazz Center facilitates thought exchange around racial equity, justice, and cultural production, in the spirit of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Through both global and local outreach, educational programming and engagement with the African Diaspora, The Shabazz Center is a generative, action-oriented community organization, committed to growing social movements that empower and prepare people for leadership in civil society.