African-American student in class Black Excellence may mean something different to everyone. We will not define what it means to you. We know that Black Excellence is grounded in the understanding that it already exists. For some, it may be a process of discovery to uncover and nurture it. For others, it only needs to be affirmed and supported. Black Excellence begins with beliefs and a mindset, guided by our core values as a district. Our approach and strategies will be informed through a partnership with our Black students, families, community partners and staff, who will help us achieve Black Excellence across our district. 

It is a belief

  • We believe in the brilliance, creativity and bright futures of Black youth throughout Madison.
  • We believe in the brilliance, creativity and important contributions of our Black staff.
  • We believe in the beauty, persistence and value of our families raising Black children.

It is anchored to core values

Madison school district core values, belonging, excellence, creativity, racial equity and social justice, Voice, focus

It is an approach to the work

The Madison School District knows that we cannot create the solutions for our Black students in isolation. We must include and honor those who hold expertise and lived experiences to shape our success in this area.

  • We will intentionally create space for families, students and community partners to inform and define the strategies we should execute.
  • We will focus on ways to support the social-emotional, academic and healthy identity development for our Black students.
  • We will commit to creating new narratives about our Black youth and highlight the excellence that already exists.
  • We will commit to anti-racist, culturally responsive teaching and leading for equity so that Black excellence will become a reality in our district.

Join the Coalition

The Black Excellence Coalition is charged with the task of developing key recommendations and actions that will have impacts for Black students in MMSD. If you're interested in joining the coalition, please fill out the form

Listen to our conversations about Black Excellence

You can listen to the conversations we've had so far about Black Excellence on our MMSD Voices podcast. We've linked them below and you also can listen to them and others on iTunes, TuneIn, Google Play, Stitcher or Spotify.

Call for student designs illustrating Black Excellence

Black Excellence is a phrase that likely means something different to each person. For some, Black Excellence may represent academic achievement, historical greatness, beating the odds, being the best in anything one does or just expressing pride in Blackness.

Whatever it means to you, we know that at MMSD, Black Excellence already exists. For our Black students, it may be a process of discovery to uncover and nurture it. And for others, we know that it only needs to be affirmed and supported.

We want to see Black Excellence through the eyes of our students. Do you know a young artist who exemplifies Black Excellence and who may be interested in illustrating what Black Excellence means to them through an original graphic design?  

Students who submit original artwork illustrating their idea of Black Excellence by 9 p.m. on Friday, February 1, will have a chance to have their design featured in multiple formats, including print materials, websites, social media and on T-shirts for sale in our new MMSD Store during Black History Month and beyond. 

Questions? Contact Amy Knight at

Details on Black Excellence artwork competition

Digital designs in the following high resolution format are accepted: 

  • PSD (Photoshop)
  • AI (Adobe Illustrator)
  •  jpeg 
  • Eps
  • PDF

Artwork should not exceed 4 colors. Line art illustration is recommended for non-digital artwork. 
No reproduced images will be accepted. Your submission must be original artwork. If your submission needs to be reproduced to ensure the highest quality of printing, we will do our best to recreate the most accurate design.
Submit artwork to Please include a brief description of your design and inspiration. If artwork is not digitally produced, original artwork must be submitted to:

MMSD Communications Dept.
545 West Dayton St.
Madison, WI. 53703

Artwork will be returned after the contest is over.

The winning entry or entries

MMSD will retain all copyrights to the design(s) selected as the winning entry. The winning artist(s) will be credited in materials, when possible. The winning artist(s) will receive 15 free T-shirts featuring their design and will be recognized in district media, including social media, newsletters, print materials and more. 


Any current MMSD student may enter the contest. By submitting a design, contest entrants release the Madison Metropolitan School District from any liability from the use of the design and understand that no remuneration will be received. By submitting a design, contest entrants also release permission to credit their name, reference the description of the artwork provided, and reference the grade and school they are enrolled in.