Bio for Bianca Baldridge



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Educational Policy Studies
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Bianca J. Baldridge

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Bianca J. Baldridge

Assistant Professor
Educational Policy Studies (EPS)

211 Education Building  binoculars icon
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Office: 608/262-1718
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Curriculum Vitae

Personal Biography

Bianca J. Baldridge is an Assistant Professor in the department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She earned her PhD in Sociology and Education from Columbia University-Teacher’s College. Her scholarship explores the socio-political context of community-based youth work and afterschool education. Bianca’s research critically examines the confluence of race, class, and gender, and their impact on educational reforms that shape community-based spaces that engage youth of color. She explores the organizational and pedagogical practices employed by youth workers/community-based educators amidst neoliberal education restructuring. Her recent book, with Stanford University Press, Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work, examines how market-based reforms and whiteness, with its emphasis on privatization and accountability, undermines Black community-based organizations’ efforts to support comprehensive youth development opportunities. As a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Bianca’s current research studies how racial discourse shapes community-based spaces that engage Black youth in predominantly white cities that espouse a liberal and progressive ethos. Bianca’s research has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Review of Research in Education, Teachers College Record, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education. Bianca’s experiences as a community-based youth worker in domestic and international contexts continues to inform her research in profound ways.


Ph D, Sociology and Education
Columbia University, Teacher’s College

M Ed, Sociology and Education
Columbia University, Teacher’s College

BA, American Studies, African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests

Race, social theory, youth studies, community-based educational spaces, sociology of education, neoliberal politics of education, community-school partnerships, critical pedagogy, Black youth, youth resistance and activism, urban education, critical ethnographic and qualitative methodologies.


  • Medina, J.C., Baldridge, B., & Wiggins, T. (in press). Partnering in a Divisive Climate: Youth-Adult Partnerships in the Current Era. At Our Best: Building Youth-Adult Partnerships in Out-of-School Time Settings. Information Age Publishing, Inc.
  • Baldridge, B. (2019). Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
    Abstract: Winner, Critics’ Choice Book Award, American Educational Studies Association, 2019

    Author Meets Critic Session: Association of Black Sociologists Annual Meeting, Friday, August 9th 2019, New York, New York

    Reviews: Journal of Youth Development (2020), Teacher’s College Record (forthcoming)
  • Baldridge, B.J. (2018). On educational advocacy and cultural work: Situating community-based youth work[ers] in broader educational discourse. Teachers College Record. 120(2), 1-28.
    Abstract: The current educational market nestled in neoliberal and market-based reform efforts has shifted the nature of public education. Community-based educational spaces are also shaped within this context. As such, given the political and educational climate youth workers are situated in, their role as advocates, cultural workers, and pedagogues warrants greater exploration within educational scholarship. Although previous scholarship captures the significance of community-based youth workers in the lives of marginalized youth, their voices and experiences are absent from broader educational discourse. Subsequently, community-based youth workers’ relationship with schools, engagement with youth, and their pedagogical practices remain underutilized and undervalued. The purpose of this article is to highlight the critical space youth workers occupy in the academic, social, and cultural lives of Black youth within community-based educational spaces. This article critically examines the intricate roles that youth workers play in the academic and social lives of youth and proposes deeper inquiry into the practices of youth workers and implications for broader education discourse.
  • Baldridge, B.J. (2018). It's not just We Got Y'all: When non-profits frame Black youth as deprived and in need of saviors. Black Youth Project.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Baldridge, B.J., Beck, N., Medina, J.C., & Reeves, M.A. (2017). Towards a new understanding of community-based education: The role of community based educational spaces in disrupting inequality for minoritized youth. Review of Research in Education. 41(1), 381-402.
    Abstract: Community-based educational spaces (CBES) (e.g. afterschool programs, community-based youth organizations, etc.) have a long history of interrupting patterns of educational inequity and continue to do so under the current educational policy climate. The current climate of education, marked by neoliberal education restructuring (Lipman, 2011a; 2011b) has left community-based educational spaces vulnerable in many of the same ways as public schools. In this way, community-based organizations are often held to many of the same standardized measures of success as the more critical dimensions of their work are compromised (Baldridge, 2014). Considering the current political moment of deep insecurity within public education, a crisis of education privatization, anti-black racism, and displacement and marginalization of communities of color, this review of research illuminates the role community-based educational spaces have played in the lives of minoritized youth. With a review of seminal education research on community-based spaces, we intend to capture the ways these diverse out-of-school spaces inform the educational experiences, political identity development, and organizing and activist lives of minoritized youth.
  • Baldridge, B.J. (2016). “It’s like this myth of the supernegro:” Resisting narratives of damage and struggle in the neoliberal educational policy context. Race, Ethnicity, and Education. pp. 1-15.
    Abstract: As pathologizing, racialized, and patriarchal rhetoric undergirds neoliberal education reform, deficit narratives characterize the education of Black youth. Such narratives present deep challenges for educational policy and community-based educational spaces. This article explores the ways in which community-based educators resist narratives of damage and struggle in their own personal and professional narratives in order to prevent the cycle of deficit-oriented discourse that follow Black youth through myriad educational spaces. By situating the narratives of community-based educators within a broader policy context shaped by race, class, and gender, this article illustrates the challenges that arise for community-based educators that seek to frame Black youth beyond deficit narratives and who avoid framing themselves as heroes and saviors of Black youth.
  • Baldridge, B.J. (2014). Relocating the deficit: Reimagining Black youth in neoliberal times. American Educational Research Journal. 51(3).
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: After school community-based spaces are often recognized in political and educational discourse as institutions that “save” and “rescue” Black youth. Such rhetoric perpetuates an ethos of pathology that diminishes the agency of youth and their communities. Through ethnographic research with 20 youth workers at a college completion and youth development after school program in the urban Northeast, findings indicate that tensions arise as youth workers strive to reimagine Black youth in humanizing ways despite pressures to frame them as broken and in need of fixing to compete for funding with charter schools. Data also reveal deep tensions in youth workers’ experiences as they critique neoliberal reforms that shape their work; yet, at the same time, they are forced to hold students to markers of success defined by neoliberal ideals. These tensions result in youth workers downplaying the social, cultural, and emotional dimensions of their work.
  • Baldridge, B.J. (2014). Shaming Black Youth is Not the Way. Capital Times.
  • Baldridge, B.J., Hill, M.L., & Davis, J.E. (2011). New possibilities: (Re)engaging Black male youth within community-based educational spaces. Race, Ethnicity and Education. 15(1).
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: Despite the assertion that due to an Obama presidency America has become post-racial society, Black males still face a unique social crisis. In this article, we hold that both race and gender continue to work in tandem to produce a certain set of social outcomes for young Black men in America despite this assertion. The educational, economic, and social mobility of young Black men is often limited due to structural constrains that are exacerbated by the intersectional dynamism of race, gender, and social class. As young Black men continue to experience social hardships, they are being pushed further and further away from traditional school contexts. Drawing from qualitative interviews with 24 young Black male participants from “EmpowerYouth,” a national community-based organization, this study highlights the importance of alternative sites of education and youth development for Black male youth. Findings from this study indicate that flexibility, applied educational and work experience, and positive health adult-youth relationships provided by “EmpowerYouth,” granted solace for young Black males who traversed through difficult circumstances within traditional school contexts. Our findings speak to the need to create new and relevant educational models that address the unique and complex circumstances of Black men in America. Ultimately, as young Black males as a valued segment of society that deserve support, care and educational sites that are able to respond to their academic and social needs.


  • Baldridge, B., Bullock, E.C., Alexander, K., & Diamond, J. (2019, November 1). Mobilizing Youth Voices for Racial Justice and Democracy, American Educational Studies Association Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Baldridge, B. (2019, October 15). Building Community to Transform: Communities of Practice as a Tool to Disrupt Whiteness in Out-of-School Time, Racial Justice Summit, YWCA, Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Baldridge, B. (2019, August 10). Exploring Race and the Emotionality of Whiteness in Community-based Youth Organizations, American Sociological Association, New York, NY.
  • Baldridge, B., Diamond, J., Alexander, K., & Bullock, E.C. (2019, August 8). Mobilizing Youth Voices for Democracy and Racial Justice in the USA, World Education Research Association Conference, Tokyo, Japan.
  • Baldridge, B. (2019, July 31). Understanding White Racial Frames and Anti-Blackness in Youth Serving Organizations, Mindfulness for the People Summer Institute, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Baldridge, B. (2018, August 10). Anti-Blackness in "Nice" White Liberal Spaces: How Community-Based Education Spaces Disrupt and Reproduce Racial Harm, Association of Black Sociologists, Association of Black Sociologists, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Baldridge, B. (2018, April 13). Fostering Subversive Scholarship: Toward Critical Hope, Healing and Radical Love in Educational, Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group, Graduate Student Forum, American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, American Education Research Association, New York, New York.
  • Baldridge, B. (2017, August 11). Disrupting Hero Narratives, Black Ones Too, Association of Black Sociologists Annual Meeting, Association of Black Sociologists, Montreal, Canada.
  • Baldridge, B. (2017, May 1). "It was never ours:" Neoliberal Paternalism, Black Youth, and Reclaiming Community-based Educational Spaces, American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, Texas.
  • Baldridge, B. (2017, May 1). Disrupting Narratives of Damage and Struggle in Black Youth Organizations, American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, Texas.

Public Service

  • Socioloy of Education Section, American Sociological Association
    Dates of Membership: Sep. 2018 - Aug. 2019
  • Coordinator of Mentoring Pairing. Period of Service: Sep. 2018 - Aug. 2019

  • Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group (American Educational Research Association)
    Dates of Membership: 2012 - 2017
  • Co-Chair, Executive Board. Period of Service: 2016 - 2017
  • Committee Chair. Period of Service: 2015 - 2016
  • Communication Co-Chair, Executive Board. Period of Service: 2014 - 2016
  • Planning Committee Co-Chair, Graduate Student Forum. Period of Service: 2012 - 2014

Awards and Honors

  • Other
    Organization: Spencer Foundation
    Date(s): 2019 - 2020
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2019
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2019
  • Other
    Organization: William T. Grant Foundation
    Date(s): 2019
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2018
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): September 1, 2016 - May 31, 2017
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2016
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2015
  • Other
    Organization: Ford Foundation
    Date(s): 2015
  • Other
    Organization: Other
    Date(s): 2013
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