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  • Why is PSV needed?
    The private school experience for Black and Brown students has been problematic for decades. Low representation, cognitive load, not feeling a sense of belonging further adds to the institutional and structural racial inequities in private schools. This all takes a tremendous toll on well-being and until now, much of it has been normalized with little to nothing specifically addressing this unique, but pervasive, experience. Until 2018, when Private School Village was founded. History and subsequent research prove the need. The growth of private schools in America is tethered to a history of racism—enrollment in these institutions exploded to avoid integration after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling because White families did not want to send their children to school with minorities. Fast forward over 65 years, private schools remain predominantly White and not adequately equipped to deal with the daily racial and cultural needs of, and the overt and covert messages sent to, Black and Brown students. Even when admitted, as Jenny Anderson wrote in the NY Times, "Admitted, But Left Out," Black students in private schools are often not accepted which manifests as indifference, silence, and segregation at best. This impacts belonging. In “The Success of African American Students in Independent Schools,” the author acknowledges that even when Black students report having a relatively good experience in a private school, they often feel “both connected and disconnected to their schools...because they encounter people and resources that affirm them within the school at the same time that they confront challenges to their sense of self and community.” When anyone feels as if they are on the “outside” of a community, it can impact self-esteem which can then impact one’s ability to thrive in life. Without healthy self-esteem, one’s confidence lacks and this informs everything such as outlook, happiness, social skills and abilities, motivation, self-worth, and more. This can have life-long implications as this experience imprints during the most significant part of adolescent development. Compounding it all, Black and Brown students must consider school through a different lens than their peers. Cognitive Load Theory is the notion that we all have a finite amount of cognitive bandwidth to process information. For Black and Brown students, some of that space is used to process the private school environment which is predominantly White, culturally different, often segregated, and sometimes racist. Myra Lalden writes in "The Psychology of Belonging (And Why It Matters)" that “when we find ourselves in situations where we are the ‘out­ group’ or in an environment in which we feel like an outsider, we use our mental energy to monitor for threats, leaving fewer resources for higher cognitive processes. When students feel as if they don’t belong in a school setting, the cognitive energy that should be used on social engagement and learning is being used to scan for group barriers, discrimination, and stereotypes.” Generation after generation, despite data confirming the possible negative implications of the Black and Brown student experience in private schools, despite decades-old research recommending private schools band together to provide racial socialization across schools, little has been done and the same issues persist. The toll of being “the only one” in a class or one of a few, having to deal with biases and racism and not feeling a sense of belonging, while managing cognitive load and navigating “two worlds,” is powerful and impacts the ability to reach full potential at best; at worst, the experience creates mental health issues for life. In fact, all students in “high-achieving” schools like private schools are now categorically “at risk” of developing mental health challenges simply because of the ongoing and unrelenting pressure to achieve. This risk is associated with rigor, but once you factor in the racial experience in private schools and the disproportionate rates of suicide among adolescents of color, it’s easy to grasp that more needs to be done.
  • What's so special about PSV?
    PSV is the first nonprofit community of support created for Black families, by Black families that focuses on the unique challenges associated with private school once admitted. Since our founding in 2018, we expanded in 2022 to support the creation of Somos PSV, a similar community within PSV for Latino/Hispanic families. In partnership with schools, PSV works to increase racial socialization, racial literacy, representation, and related research. PSV’s vision is to build (affinity) communities in a private school setting that bolster belonging and creates a more equitable and healthy school experience. PSV is not a school, but rather a village of families working together across and in partnership with private schools. Together we are working to forever alter the generational experience of othering felt for far too long, and all that begets, and empower parents with education and agency to create and sustain meaningful change while centering the experiences of students. We believe that a healthy education includes a community where students, parents, and schools are in partnership to ensure all students thrive fully.
  • Why did PSV only focus on Black students in private schools in the beginning?
    We recognize that the issues Black students face in private schools are not issues that are only experienced in private schools or issues that only Black students face. However, we are limited in resources and have to start somewhere. Additionally, our founder, Lisa Johnson, is a Black mother who is the product of an independent school education, and is currently a mother of small children in independent school where she also sits on the board. She is passionate about improving these schools and understands these schools more readily than others so it was a natural place for her to start. She felt it was important to focus on Black families in particular given the history of race in America and its connection to the private school enrollment boom and formation of many independent schools decades ago. That said, in 2022 the organization formed a Latinx/Hispanic workgroup comprised of parents and administrators to launch Somos PSV, a community within PSV for Latino families. PSV now focuses on Black and Latinx/Hispanic families in private schools.
  • How do I join PSV?
    It's easy and free to join PSV! All you do is go to our website at and/or and sign up to receive our regular emails. From there, you will start getting emails that notify you of events, programs, and activities and you pick and chose how and when to get involved! Or, simply RSVP to one of our events on our website and you will start receiving information about upcoming events. Remember, it takes a village and we each can play a role, however big or small, in the village. Together, if we each contribute something -- time, talent, resources, participation -- we will be stronger for it and our children will benefit the most.
  • What if my school has an affinity space and I feel a sense of community at my school -- do I still participate in PSV?
    We are thrilled when parents already feel a strong sense of community in their respective schools because of an affinity space or anything else for that matter. Belonging is essential to a healthy school experience and development! PSV isn't designed to replace a school's affinity group but is instead there to augment and support the growing need for community in the broadest sense possible. In that light, PSV is a larger affinity space for all of the (informal and formal) affinity groups in private schools (if they exist in a school). That said, we have decades of inconsistent experiences in our schools and many organized support structures have not lasted through generations as families matriculate. PSV provides a consistency to support our collective school experience that benefits everyone! PSV creates an opportunity to build affinity and support across schools to ensure we are working together as a larger community to forever improve the generational experience of Black and Brown families in our schools. What's the saying -- if you want to go fast, go alone...if you want to go far, go together. We want to go far, together. PSV is working broadly to realize change across private schools by empowering parents and working collaboratively with our schools, including affinity groups. PSV is working on many levels to bring change. A few ways include providing research about experiences as data is a first-step towards realizing anything meaningful, bringing key stakeholders together within private schools (e.g. Black trustees) and increasing opportunities for our children to socialize regularly (e.g. social pods that are not school specific but rather grade-level specific across all PSV-sponsoring schools). We need to continue to work collaboratively across all areas in our schools to harness the macro voice of the Black and Brown family experience and use it for our collective betterment. This starts with building community, both locally within a school and beyond.
  • Is there any criteria to joining PSV?
    The only criteria we have is that someone in the family identify as Black and/or Latinx/Hispanic, that someone in the family be affiliated with a local private school, and/or that someone identify as an active ally who wants to better support Black and Latinx/Hispanic students and families in private school and understands that PSV centers their experience. This includes multiracial families who are mixed with Black, trans-racial families, and more. This may also include Black families who are imminently on the private school "track," hoping to join this unique school community.
  • Are PSV and Private School Axis the same thing?
    Private School Village (PSV) and Private School Axis are two distinct nonprofits with a shared history. In 2020, the leadership of both organizations co-produced a podcast and PSV helped establish Private School Axis as a single-focused entity by sharing our unique approach to this work and serving on the Axis Founding Board. Since then, evolving missions, programming, and the similarity in the organization's names have led to understandable confusion among donors, volunteers, and school partners. There are many differences, however. Established in 2018, PSV is unique in its mission to support families throughout their private school journey. Unlike a cohort model, PSV is accessible to all families with Black and Brown students in our partnering private schools. Dedicated parent volunteers primarily run our operations, and our Executive Director's time and talents are solely devoted to PSV, with no affiliations to other for-profit entities. PSV offers a wide array of programs and services, each designed to enrich the private school experience. These include the Trustee Leadership Program, The Village Scholarship, Grade-Level Social Pods, the PSV Ambassadors Program, the High School Student Advisory Council & Teen Committee, and more. Our community-building events, such as the Fall Family Picnic, Sneaker Soirees, and Parent2Parent Mix & Mingle, are also noteworthy.
  • Are PSV and Jack and Jill the same thing?
    Both organizations strive to better support Black children through myriad programs and activities, however, Jack & Jill and PSV are not the same thing. Many families participate in both organizations for that very reason. Perhaps the biggest difference between the organizations is that PSV is a grassroots community comprised of those that identify as Black and/or Latinx/Hispanic and have an affiliation with a private school or those that are on the private school “track.” PSV welcomes all caretakers, regardless of gender, and race/ethnicity, and there is no application process. Jack & Jill is a nationwide membership organization of mothers who were invited and selected to join (if they are not legacy). Chapters of Jack & Jill are limited in the number of members each chapter selects, and the children of members do not have to be in private school. Both organizations offer a great deal to the Black community in particular and share a commitment to racial socialization, among other things.
  • Can I join PSV even though my child is not in private school?
    We welcome Black and Latinx/Hispanic families who are imminently on the private school "track" (meaning, actively in an applicant pool) to participate in select PSV events/activities. A goal of PSV is to increase racial diversity in private schools and PSV members can provide first-hand feedback to applicant families in a unique way. That said, many of our programs are only for families currently in PSV-sponsored schools.
  • Where does the money raised go?
    Donations to PSV support our mission to ensure students fully thrive. 100% of donations help cover expenses related to PSV programs and operations so that PSV can keep costs to participates low. PSV is a voluntary organization so we rely on the time and talents of dedicated volunteers. That said, we do contract with speakers, experts, and consultants to operate. PSV currently has a Platinum Seal of Transparency from CANDID.
  • I am a white parent with a bi-racial child or an adopted Black child, can I participate?
    Yes! You are part of the village as the parent of a bi-racial or Black child! We hope you will participate, volunteer, and more as your experience impacts your child's experience and that is our shared focus.
  • Can I invite someone to join PSV?
    As long as they fit the basic criteria, we hope that you will invite them!
  • Is there a membership fee to join PSV?
    There is currently no fee to join Private School Village--if you fit the basic criteria, we just want you to join us, socialize, and pitch in whenever/if you can. We are a village and together we are building something special and important with a keen focus on doing what's best for the health and development of our children. We think that building a valuable community shouldn't require a fee or become any type of burden. That said, we would be silly not to hope that everyone will contribute in a meaningful way. We welcome all in-kind or monetary donations throughout the year.
  • Is it a conflict to participate in PSV and also be a part of any other organization?
    It is not -- at least from PSV's perspective! PSV is highly collaborative nonprofit organization and feels as if there is plenty of room for every organization, every mission, even entities with similar or related goals. To us, there is real strength in sharing efforts and we'd prefer to leverage that strength for the benefit of our community.
  • Can I share an upcoming event that's not a PSV event to the PSV community?
    Yes! Please send information about resources related to diversity and inclusion or private school admittance and we will try to post it on social media for the PSV community. To submit something, email and include a jpeg image that provides the event name, date, location, contact name and a little blurb about the event. Better yet, if you're on Facebook, please post it directly to the PSV public Facebook page (or private Facebook group) using your best discretion about what's being posted (e.g. posting information about activities and events for students versus soliciting for business; not posting too often, etc). We reserve PSV email messages to those that are directly related to our mission.
  • Who do I contact if I have more questions?
    Please email us at Please understand that we receive and lot of emails and it may take time for us to respond.
  • Are families in Catholic School welcome to join PSV?
    Yes! Private schools include nonsectarian schools and religious schools covering many denominations (the term parochial usually denotes Catholic schools but can also refer to schools of other religious faiths and denominations). These schools do not rely on government funding. They are supported by tuition, by grants from charitable organizations, and in the case of religious schools, by religious institutions. Yet, the daily school experience of Black and Brown families in these spaces is typically the same regardless of school type.
  • What is The Village Scholarship?
    The Village Scholarship (TVS) is a renewable scholarship designed for Black and Latino/Hispanic elementary school students from low-income households. TVS aims to increase racial diversity in local private schools and address the financial aid gap. 2024 will serve as a pilot year for the initiative.
  • Why do us capitalize the "B" in Black and Brown when the editorial rule is for Black to be capitalized and not Brown?
    In the summer of 2020, amid globally historic levels of civil unrest, The New York Times completed an internal and external review of their copywriting policy and the term ‘Black’ is used. Their new copywriting policy stated that the term ‘Black’ would now be capitalized when used to describe “people and cultures of African origin, both in the United States and elsewhere.” The Times also determined that The term “brown” as a racial or ethnic description should also generally remain lowercase as “Brown” has been used to describe such a disparate range of people — Latin, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern — that the meaning is often unclear to readers. The Times cautions writers and editors to use the term ‘brown’ with care. The Times also indicates that Latino has always been capitalized in their copywriting practices. PSV adopted The Times' interpretation of capitalizing Black while having brown remain lowercase. Oftentimes in our descriptions we say “Black/brown” or “Black and Brown.” However, the times has also provided guidance that “Under [their] longstanding guidelines, we should include references to a person’s race or ethnicity only when it is pertinent and the pertinence is clear to readers.” Since the guidance from The Times was released, PSV has undergone significant evolution. We've expanded our village to include the Latinx/Hispanic community. Moreover, we recognize that Latin, Indigenous, Asian, and Middle Eastern individuals can also experience and feel marginalized within the private school environment. Historically, many institutions were established with the intention of excluding non-white students. The racial and ethnic demographics of private schools vary across the nation. We want to ensure that consistently capitalizing 'Black' next to lowercase 'brown' isn't misconstrued or seen as diminishing the experiences of our brown community members in this context. PSV adapted The Time’s guidelines which helped us understand race and ethnicity as it is perceived through nomenclature. We want current and prospective PSV community members to understand our mission: To cultivate and harness the power of community to positively transform the private school experience for Black and Brown families so that students fully thrive. We want to ensure all of our Black and Brown families feel the inherent unity in our community. Therefore, PSV will move forward with capitalizing both Black and Brown in the context of the communities when referring to the communities we aim to serve and support despite the editorial rule. That said, it will take time for this change to be updated and reflected across all of our collateral and promotional materials.
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