RISE Staff Retreat with the Native American Community Academy
The RISE Team hit the road in October and traveled to New Mexico for our first out-of-state professional development retreat. We are so fortunate to have been welcomed by the staff and students at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) in Albuquerque. Learning about the culturally responsive teaching methods that NACA uses was eye opening and refreshing. Students told us how much it means to them that their culture and identity is not only welcomed, but celebrated throughout their educational journey.
"When we find our voices, we are unstoppable." These were the words of Olivia Martinez, the 10th Grade Vice President at NACA, spoken at the Native American Community Academy's 10th Annual Feast Day. Students at the event were encouraged to dress in traditional attire. It was fitting for the day's theme of celebrating youth and served as a reminder of the empowerment that comes from feeling affirmed in your identity and culture. Aside from the inspiration of the wise words spoken by NACA students throughout the morning, the RISE staff was deeply touched by the presence of community. The 1,000 students, families and community members in attendance were celebrated with a potluck-style feast. This strong showing of community was symbolic of the inclusion of family and community wisdom embedded in the structures, curriculum, practices, and values of NACA.
Our RISE team is incredibly thankful for this time together to deeply reflect on our culturally relevant family and community engagement practices. It was a special time for us together as team and family. Many of us were able to bring along our partners and children to share in this experience with us. We left feeling hopeful about what's possible within education when our children and families feel welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated for who they are. We're excited to bring our learnings back from NACA to take our work in Aurora to the next level.
Parent Opportunity Gap Workshops
In October, the RISE Team continued our POG workshops for the Nepali, Burmese, and Latino communities. Parent Opportunity Gap - POG for short- is where families gain vital information about the statistics surrounding public education nationally and locally in Aurora and how they can help their children overcome these statistics and make it to and through college. Families take time during this workshop to think about their roles as parents in their children's education and what they envision for their children's futures.
During POG, family members write their visions for the future in regards to their children's education. Some powerful responses that families shared are:
"When I think about my child's future, I want her to be strong. I want her to be confident in what she believes, and not afraid of what people think. I want her greatest motivators to be love, hope, ambition, and drive. Not fear. I want her ot be the one who shatters statistics and rises above the status quo. I see her not only building herself up, but also building up and empowering those around her. I want her to live a life that has a positive imapact on her generation." -APS Parent
"I want my daughter to achieve all that she desires and dreams for even if she fails at first. I don't want her to think that because her resources are limited or because she's not in a certain school district or area that she can't or won't amount to anything. I want her to embrace who she is and use all that she'll learn to succeed. And I will lead by example and set myself as a role model." -APS Parent
Burmese and Karen Communities
Navigating the School Systems Workshops
In our Navigating the School System (NSS) workshop, facilitators share information on the structure of the school system starting at the school level and moving up to the United States Department of Education. This knowledge is crucial to building family agency and voice as they learn how to navigate the intricacies of the education system, especially for our refugee families who are new to the country and our education system. In October, both the Burmese and Karen Communities met to attend the NSS workshop.
Equity Professional Development Series Launch
We are excited to launch an Equity professional development series at JCDC for the staff school-wide this year. After attending an equity training through the district, the Jamaica Child Development Center (JCDC) staff identified the need to get to know themselves and their team in a deeper way in order to effectively support their students, families, and colleagues. RISE partnered with JCDC to pursue this goal by facilitating a workshop on Story of Self from the Public Narrative Framework.
This was the first part of a larger Public Narrative series educators at JCDC will be engaging in with RISE throughout this academic year. Teachers and administrators reflected on the challenges, choices, and outcomes that brought them to this work. Teachers left with a greater sense of empathy towards each other and a deeper understanding of their ties as professionals. We believe it is important to support our school partners holistically around diversity and equity so that we're all equipped to best support our students and families.
Family Advisory Council
We are thrilled to announce the launch of the RISE Family Advisory Council. RISE members who want to have a decision making role within RISE are now meeting regularly to review and give advice on high level decisions that need to be made within the organization. It is key to the RISE mission that families guide the decisions we make as an organization ensuring that our work is driven by the needs and demands of the community.
CEO, Veronica Palmer, was invited to speak on the panel, "Perspectives from the Other Side of the Table" at the Grantmakers for Education conference held in Denver. As a non-profit leader of color she was able to share her experiences and ideas for how partnership between funders and grantees can be improved. It was an incredible experience where a safe space was created for Black and Latino leaders to speak honestly about the additional challenges entrepreneurs of color face-especially when it comes to accessing coaching, capital, and connections.
RISE Professional Development
During our weekly meetings, the RISE Team has been taking the time to grow and learn through a professional development series led by different team members each week. Below are a few of the topics we have covered this month.
Conceptualizing and Addressing Subtle Manifestations of Race
RISE staff learned about the "one-drop rule" and various racial constructs that affect people, relationships, and institutions in present-day America. We evaluated how racism affects the psycho-social health of people of color and white people, and we established an understanding of "white privilege" and "new racism," which is not as blatant as conventional racism. Thanks to RISE team member, Angele, for leading this very important and thought-provoking session!
National Organizing Workshop
RISE team member, Wisdom, shared his learnings from the Leadership for Educational Equity training session titled National Organizing Workshop (NOW). RISE staff engaged in two professional development sessions focused on understanding how we relate to power and how to conduct power analyses of our region. We determined how to apply these learnings to our individual work as organizers.
RISE In the News
This month RISE was featured by:
Leadership for Educational Equity, New Ventures: RISE Colorado: LEE featured the work of RISE Colorado through an interview with CEO, Veronica Palmer. As part of the LEE New Ventures Fellowship, Veronica and the RISE Team have worked closely with coaches and consultants at LEE to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of our organization.
CEO, Veronica Palmer, speaks about RISE Colorado's mission, vision, and programs.