Community cultural wealth Asset-based thinking in education

When you think of impoverished communities, wealth is not a term that readily comes to mind. Overpopulation, struggle, violence, and lack of resources are just a few words that rise to the top of a mental list. But what if I told you that these impoverished, indigenous and minority communities possess great wealth that cannot be quantified by society’s standards nor stripped away by power, position or prestige?

Have you ever watched the news and wondered how communities are able to rebuild and find hope after tragedy? Have you ever encountered a person humbled by life’s circumstances but walked away from the conversation filled with great insight and joy? Or read an article about a young child who has triumphed over their obstacles and now uses their story and influence to help other youth?

Wealth is the common thread.

On July 25, Jacynth Johnson, along with the A.W.A.R.E Team of Plainfield and North Plainfield, took to the streets of Plainfield to march against racism that arises in our community and schools. Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp was the keynote speaker and marched with the community.

Wealth can be defined as the accumulation of assets and those who are wealthy focus on investing. Wealth can be passed down from generation to generation and creates resilience, innovation, pride and strategy for Black, Indigenous and People of Color and their communities.

Community cultural wealth gives language to the richness of a legacy passed down through shared stories, letters, books, traditions, songs, and art.

We are wealthy people: People worthy of respect, recognition, life and honor. Recognizing your own capital is a vital step in being able to recognize wealth in others and in your students.

Jacynth Johnson is a part-time NJEA professional development consultant and an NJEA REAL Movement member. Johnson is a middle school supervisor in Montgomery Township School District. She can be reached at

njea r.e.a.l. movement

Through the REAL Movement sessions at our Summer Leadership Conference, the NJEA Convention, and our Inclusion Learning Labs, we have started to explore and unpack the community cultural wealth (CCW) framework in ways that make visible the boundless cultural wealth that we bring to the table.

The REAL learning journey is not a discussion about bias. The purpose is not shame or blame. It is an intentional movement-building endeavor that aims to shift our collective thinking within the CCW framework and asset-based thinking to lift up the value and cultural capital that Black, Indigenous and People of Color bring to professional spaces that ultimately influence how we view the cultural wealth that our students of color bring into our schools.

Do you want to learn more? Sign up for email updates on the latest events at and keep an eye out for the launch of our CCW Conversation Series in 2021 on