Here is an update on our work in D.C. which was supported in part by the generous contribution from the Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation last year.
(1) Tellin’ Stories Project is a unique approach to building grassroots multiracial parent power with a focus on families who have traditionally been marginalized due to race, class, and/or national origin. We are currently working in six DC public schools and one Prince George’s County, MD public school while also developing a model for national expansion. This past year we produced a short film about our Roving Readers program and developed approaches to challenging potential power shifts in gentrifying schools.
(2) Teach the Beat provides resources to bring the history and music of go-go into middle and high school social studies, language arts, math, music, and/or D.C. history classes. This effort was launched in collaboration with Charles Stephenson (former manager of EU) and DCPS to address the absence of go-go in the DC curriculum and history textbook. In April of 2015, with an innovation grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, we launched an effort to bring go-go performers and scholars to coach teachers and students in DC classrooms.
(3) Stories from the Classroom is a year-long course for DC teachers launched by Teaching for Change this fall. As a result of writing and reflecting together, teacher participants will deepen their own practice, build community among D.C. area social justice educators, and contribute to the all-too-scarce collection of published descriptions of classroom practice by teachers themselves. Dozens of teachers applied and 14 were accepted for this inaugural course. Read more.
(4) Put Central America on the Map in Schools provides free downloadable lessons and workshops on Central American history and literature. Last year we offered the workshop for D.C. Public Schools curriculum staff, Carlos Rosario Public Charter School adult education staff, and to teachers in D.C. area schools. In each case, the pre- and post-assessment revealed a dramatic impact. In the pre-assessment, no one could name more than one Central American in history or literature. This despite the fact that the great majority of Latino students in D.C. schools are Central American. If the teachers do not know historical or contemporary people of note from Central America, they cannot teach about them. Our goal for next school year is promote the use of these lessons during Latino (Hispanic) Heritage Month.
(5) Progressive, Multicultural Literature for Parents and Teachers: This past year we ended of our operation of the bookstore at Busboys and Poets (14th and V). We are proud of the role we played for ten years in helping to launch the bookstore and author events at the flagship locations. Our carefully vetted selection of multicultural and social justice books can still be found on our webstore, tfcbooks.org. We continue to add titles to our booklists and introduce them in workshops to D.C. area teachers and parents.
(6) Identify and support progressive teachers in the D.C. metro area: To sustain and nurture progressive teachers in the D.C. metro area, we continually find ways to bring them together for author events and curriculum writing workshops. We also provide lessons for them through our Zinn Education Project. Coordinated with Rethinking Schools, we have a network of 54,000 teachers nationally who have signed up to access lessons, including 1,800 in the DC metro area.
We focus our work on parents and teachers so that they can in turn impact 100+ students each, every year. Currently, we work with 225 parents in DC schools. We work with 35 teachers directly and close to 2,000 who download our lessons and/or use our multicultural book lists.
Our budget for FY16 is $802,000. This includes the funds for our national work in Mississippi and across the country.
Funding in FY15
The donation from the BCB Foundation in FY15 was used to strengthen our capacity to carry the work forward. Our board and staff engaged in a long term 25th anniversary strategic planning process, with a pro-bono consultant from Fair Chance, culminating in a full day session in February of 2015. In addition, we hired a communications director (part-time) who is making sure that all the work described above gets visibility through our e-newsletters, website, social media, and media articles. The person we hired came from Jobs with Justice and has already increased our effective use of media.
For FY16 and FY17, we would appreciate the support of the Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation to expand Teach the Beat: Bringing Go-Go to the Classroom. As one student from School Without Walls (SWW) said, “After the visit from John Buchanan I feel more like a Washingtonian.” (Read more student reflections here.) Mr. Stevens at SEED Public Charter School said about the visit by Charles Stephenson, “It was great to watch students feel not only validated about their academic endeavors but about their culture and their people and who they are.” With your support, we can help many more students across the city gain this knowledge and affirmation.