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- Publishes guest opinion piece in the Tacoma News Tribune in the voice of Vibrant Schools co-founder Eve Bowen around the entrenched achievement gap. The piece poses the question “What is the Plan?” to the school district. Ms. Bowen recounts her school’s success in tackling the problem during a portion of her 35 years as an educator.
- Creates and hosts first community storytelling gathering to welcome parent, youth and community voice around equity, justice and access in the public schools. Event draws over 40 participants and some stories captured on videotape and posted online.
- Plans youth driven storytelling second event in March of 2016 at the B Sharp Coffeehouse in downtown Tacoma.
- Works with Tacoma School District to promote mandatory representation by every school in the districtwide equity team. This participation becomes a reality shortly after in January of 2016.
- Presents the Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, School Board Chair and full school board (in succession) with data indicating that race, not family income, is a primary factor behind academic achievement for both math and reading at 3rd and 5th grade levels. Implores the district to come up with a plan to address this achievement gap.
- Featured in a Tacoma News Tribune article addressing Vibrant School’s concerns around this decades- long gap.
- Advocates for enhanced funds to support the AVID and Partnership programs leading to a nearly $200,000 boost in this funding at a time that the district reduces the proposed annual budget by four million dollars to meet overall school board targets.
- Hosts three home based events to introduce Vibrant Schools to new supporters. Event more than doubles the membership base and leads to nearly $10,000 of private support.
- Awarded a $10,000 grant from the City of Tacoma’s Office of Equity and Human Rights to promote the organization’s development and outreach work around education equity in the Tacoma School District.
- Steering Committee, establishes primary goal of “Destroying the Achievement Gap” in the Tacoma Public Schools, the outcome of a facilitated retreat with staff and steering committee members.
- Hires a new director, Lucas Smiraldo, with ten years of experience in education, and twenty in the nonprofit sector including five as a community organizer. Director is also a youth arts educator.
- Continues peer to peer gatherings to reinforce and apply Undoing Institutional Racism (UIR) principles in education, nonprofit and city government sectors.
- Partners with the Tacoma School District to promote the accelerated learning initiative with communities of color and those impacted by poverty.
- Launches two cohort trainings for Undoing Institutional Racism (UIR) for nonprofit sector participants, educators and city government administrators. The training explores the foundations of institutional racism in the U.S. while helping participants determine the roles they can take to interrupt and end racism in education, government and other systems impacting our neighborhoods.
- These UIR trainings lead to the City of Tacoma to adopt its own UIR efforts with top level administrators along with the Russell Family Foundation which also adopts the training.
- Receives a major $150,000 multi -year grant from the Gates Foundation to advocate for equity and equal access in the Tacoma School District.
- Vibrant Schools engages with both the school administration and the Tacoma education Association teacher’s union to ensure that students of color’s interest are represented during the negotiation.
- Hires its first director, Tasha Ina Church, a published author, entrepreneur and advocate for young women of color with strong ties to diverse multicultural communities.
- Establishes monthly meetings with the school district leadership including the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent.
- Establishes regular meetings for coalition members that invite policy work and direct action to address race, equity and achievement in the school district.
- Vibrant Schools Founded by a coalition of organizations and individuals fighting for justice and access for students of color in the Tacoma schools. Co-founding organizations included but not limited to: The Tacoma NAACP, The Black Collective, The Asian Pacific Cultural Center, Peace Community Center, The Conversation and the Northwest Leadership Foundation.