TOGETHER! We Rise

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What can we do together to advance the health and well-being of all young people in our region? Visit TOGETHER!’s blog to enjoy updates on our work and information on issues concerning families and young people.


Intercultural Foundations Work Continues!

TOGETHER! is excited to be moving into the next phase of our partnership work with YWCA of Olympia's Intercultural Foundations program. Since October 2016, TOGETHER! and Intercultural Foundations have been working together to assess and improve our individual and organizational capacities for building inclusion and equity in our community. This coming phase will consist of reviewing our policies, procedures and organizational structure with our Board of Directors and the Intercultural Foundations team and making revisions as needed to ensure alignment with our values of equity, mobilization and systems change.

from YWCA of Olympia:

"The Intercultural Foundations program of the YWCA of Olympia is built on the belief that if we invest in tools to build intercultural competence, we invest in a better world for all. We consult with local organizations to assess and improve their culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, at both the individual and institutional levels. By providing leaders in our community with the necessary tools to work across cultural differences, we create space for the perspectives of folks who are most impacted by marginalization to be centered and heard.

The Intercultural Foundations team is thankful to have had TOGETHER! as one of our first project partners. With this group, we have created a space to probe the depths of our socialization, revealing how implicit bias and internalized oppression impact our ability to make change in the community in an effective and equitable way. The commitment of TOGETHER!’s leadership to the process of deep internal assessment and structural change has been crucial to the program’s success, and serves as a model for our future projects."

We feel the same way! Thank you, Intercultural Foundations, for your guidance and support through this transformative process. Your service to our community is truly invaluable.


Notice of Intent to Apply: Expansion of 21st Century Community Learning Centers

This is the official notice of TOGETHER!’s intent to apply for funding for the expansion of our 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The new grant will cover two middle schools in North Thurston Public Schools, serving approximately 100 students with before- and after-school academic enrichment programming, including several community partnerships.  This is a competitive grant process with funding status to be determined in August 2018. Our elementary school Club House programs will be unaffected by the status of this grant through the 2018-19 school year. If you are interested in reviewing the grant in its entirety, please contact Meagan Darrow at MDarrow@thurstonTOGETHER.org. The full grant will also be posted HERE after the submission deadline, which is 4pm on Thursday, May 24th.


Awards of Excellence Returns on May 19th, 2018

TOGETHER!’s annual Awards of Excellence is an opportunity to honor those youth whose grace and strength shine through the stories of success they share with us. In the last two years since the event’s return, we’ve awarded youth who have balanced their academic and career goals with family responsibilities and personal circumstances. Awards of Excellence honorees parent young children; support friends, family members, and themselves through addiction or mental health issues; and respond to injustice in their community by bringing people together to heal and take action.

These young people are exceptional not only because of their accomplishments, but because of the often-unseen challenges that they have met and struggled through on the way. Whether they face barriers due to their race, class, gender, ability, immigration status, system involvement or family structure, what Awards of Excellence honorees have in common is the resilience that defines their leadership.   

Two awards will be granted based on the theme of “Service Above Self.” These will be awarded to youth who have shown leadership in service to their families and communities. Too often, acts of service that occur outside of traditional volunteer opportunities can be overlooked for recognition. We ask our nominators to look for those students who perform acts of service in their immediate communities, supporting their peers and family members, whether or not they have the time and resources to volunteer in traditional ways.

We’d like to thank Gateway Rotary for being the Presenting Sponsor of this event for the third year in a row. We are proud to continue this tradition for another year and to provide the recognition of achievement that is so vital to the continued success of our youth.

If you know a young person who you think qualifies for this award, you can nominate them here. The survey will close on March 31st, 2018.


Our partners at Tumwater School District are deepening their equity and inclusion work after a racist incident that occurred at a Veteran’s Day assembly.

By now, many of you are probably aware of the controversy that surrounded George Washington Bush Middle School’s Veteran’s Day assembly on Thursday, November 9th. At the assembly, a Confederate flag was displayed as part of a program featuring the chronological history of American flags from 1775 to the present.

Bush Middle School is one of the schools in Tumwater served by TOGETHER!’s Community Schools program. TOGETHER! holds equity as a core value in all of our work. Racism is a barrier to the success of our children and, as such, fighting against systemic racism is necessary to our mission of advancing the health and well-being of all young people.

The Confederate flag was never an official flag of the United States of America. Rather, it represents a movement within this country that continues, to this day, to threaten the safety of communities of color.  We agree with the district’s position that its inclusion in the assembly was historically inaccurate as well as deeply insensitive.

This incident shines a light on the importance of addressing systemic racism, not only for Tumwater Schools, but for our entire community.  The precipice of change in which we find ourselves compels us to focus on collaboration work that is focused on solutions with all of our partners. TOGETHER!’s role within the district has been and will continue to be a supportive one. Through extensive conversation with district leadership, we are deepening our collaborative partnership to support their growth towards providing a truly safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environment.

We do not expect this change to take place immediately or without difficulty. Our commitment to the district and the community is that we will continue doing the work that is so important to us, ensuring that all students have an equal chance to succeed in school and in life.

 

Sincerely,

Meagan Darrow & Meghan Sullivan Goldenberger


Thank You for Giving Local!

This month, TOGETHER! participated in the first ever Give Local online giving campaign, and we are amazed by the results! Fifty of you donated to our campaign, raising $3,550 to support the expansion of Community Schools into Rochester and Yelm. Your support helps us create more school-based Community Resource Centers, connect more students and families with needed resources, and build more supportive communities for all our young people. Thank you! We can't do this work without you.

We'd also like to thank the Community Foundation for coordinating Give Local; Coldwell Banker, Greene Realty, and Olympia Federal Savings for sponsoring the campaign; South Sound Partners for Philanthropy for sponsoring Giving Bonus Wednesdays; and the Dawkins Charitable Trust for providing a matching grant, ensuring that your donations will go even further. 

These funds will support programs like Right From the Start, which coordinates story times and play groups for children ages 0-5 while coordinating resources for their families, and Yelm Community Schools, which connects middle school students and their families in Yelm to networks of support to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in school. All of our Community Schools programs share, at their core, our values of equity, community mobilization, and systems change. We believe that all students deserve an equal chance to succeed in school and in life, and we are committed to building systems that work for everyone. But we can't do it alone -- your support means so much. Thank you for being a part of our community!


Right from the Start Joins TOGETHER!'s Family of Programs

TOGETHER! is thrilled to welcome Right from the Start, and early learning center that serves families with children ages 0-5 in Rochester, WA, to our family of programs. Right from the Start, previously overseen by The United Way of Thurston County, engages whole families and communities with educational opportunities for parents as well as children, family engagement and community building events, Parents as Teachers group connections, and referrals to community resources.

Services like weekly story times, play groups, and parenting classes welcome families to the center and allow Nancy Villanueva, program coordinator, the opportunity to assess need and coordinate services for families. Every family that attends a Right from the Start program gets connected to a supportive community where they can access support and resources they might not have known were available. 

Family engagement and community partnerships are the cornerstone of TOGETHER!’s work for youth, so Right from the Start is a perfect fit with our organization. Access to high-quality early learning is crucial for ensuring that students are ready for kindergarten, setting them up for success through the rest of their K-12 years. Right from the Start not only makes early learning accessible, but provides comprehensive services that support the whole child and whole family. It’s the kind of work that TOGETHER! is proud to partner on, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to do this work in Rochester.


CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Healthy Futures, Redefining Prevention

 

TOGETHER! is accepting proposals for presentations that redefine prevention within the four focus areas of Accessing Educational Equity, Addiction in Context, Building Community Resiliency, and Health & Wellness for our 2018 Healthy Futures Conference. Please follow this link to fill out our Call for Proposals. The survey will close on Monday, December 18, 2017 at 5pm. We will respond to all proposals by Wednesday, January 31st.

Proposals must fit within at least one of the following four focus areas:

  1. Accessing Educational Equity: All young people deserve equal access to education, but inequality is built into the system. How do we, as educators, social workers, prevention specialists, and support staff, work to correct these inequalities? How do we change the systems that allow some students to succeed while others slip through the cracks? What elements are necessary in an equitable education system?
  2. Addiction in Context: Science has proven that addiction does not happen in a vacuum. Environmental factors like ACEs, toxic stress, lack of resiliency, lack of supportive relationships or community, all increase the likelihood of substance abuse and addiction in young people as they grow into adults. What can the world of prevention learn from this research? How can we incorporate this new understanding into our approach to preventing substance abuse and addiction and advancing the health and well-being of young people, their families, and our communities?
  3. Building Community Resiliency: Resilient communities save lives. But what makes a community resilient? How can we work together to build and reshape systems, practices, and policies to create more vibrant and resilient communities for our kids and families? We want to know what innovative partnerships you are building that strengthen your community. How do community involvement and community relationships impact the youth you work with?
  4. Health and Wellness: Health is a lot more than what happens at the doctor’s office, especially in a world where healthcare is becoming less and less accessible. Research clearly shows the link between health outcomes and social, economic, and environmental factors. How are you making healthcare accessible in your community? How are you incorporating an understanding of the social determinants of health into your practice? And, how can we take care of ourselves as youth workers in the midst of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma?

 

Successful proposals will:

  • Fit within a 75, 90, or 120 minute time slot
  • Challenge us to think about prevention in a new way
  • Draw connections between fields and sectors to create innovation solutions
  • Feature youth voices when possible
  • Bring equity to the forefront

Support Community Schools through Give Local

TOGETHER! is thrilled to announce our participation in the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound's Give Local campaign! 

Give Local is an opportunity for the community to support the rural expansion of TOGETHER!'s Community Schools initiative, and with Give Local, your support goes even further thanks to a generous matching grant by the Dawkins Charitable Trust.

To view and support TOGETHER!'s campaign, visit our campaign page. You can support us by donating, liking, sharing the campaign, commenting on our social media posts, and telling your friends! If you wish to share the campaign with your networks, you can sign up as a Champion under the "Champions" tab. Learn more about what you can do as a Champion by reading this Champion Guide.

All proceeds from the campaign will support the expansion of Community Schools programming in Yelm and Rochester through Yelm Community Schools and Right From the Start. You can help make sure that all kids in Thurston County have the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life! Thank you for your support.


Be a Mentor with Pathmakers!

Are you looking for an opportunity make a significant difference in the life of a child? Pathmakers is a brand new school-based mentoring program managed by TOGETHER!, and is currently recruiting volunteers to serve students in Tumwater! Volunteers will meet with their mentees twice a week during lunchtime to talk, play games, do crafts, and build social-emotional skills to support the students’ transition into middle school.

The transition from elementary to middle school is a crucial time in k-12 education when many students without adequate support can start feeling less engaged in school. Decreased attendance and increased disciplinary interventions around this time have a long-term impact on graduation and post-secondary success rates. Pathmakers volunteers will work with their students across their 5th and 6th grade years, being a supportive, familiar face at a time when everything is changing around them.

We are looking for volunteers ages 18 & up who are able to make a commitment to working with their mentee for two academic years, including a short summer session. If you are interested in being a mentor, please fill out this application and return to Cynthia Spencer at cspencer@thurstontogether.org.