Ramapough Lenape Art...
STRETCH GOAL ADDED: $800 – see below for details.
I am running this program as part of my internship for Community Ministry, with the Center for Earth Ethics, supporting indigenous rights and climate justice. My home congregation is the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, NY, my internship committee is at All Souls, NYC.
The Rampough Lenape are the original peoples of Connecticut, Rockland to southern New York and northern New Jersey. They are recognized by the state of New Jersey, but are not federally recognized, due to prejudice and racism. They continue to live in their ancestral lands and continue to experience encroachment by various entities. They have experienced toxic dumping on their lands which has caused cancer clusters and decimated many in the community.
Like many communities in the country, the Ramapough have had to deal with the effects of the opioid epidemic. The proposed after school program, Art & Literacy Lab, is a way to bring an educational program to the Ramapough youth, to allow them to process their concerns through literacy, art and creative expression and to create art connected to their Ramapough Lenape heritage.
The first session will begin with a small meal, followed by a sharing circle, where participants will discuss their interests in order for me to assess how to go forward. We will discuss how we will interact as community, setting norms or rules of engagement, in order to create a safe space. I will share with them my notebooks which demonstrate using art to create poetry. I will show them a selection of an image for them to respond to in writing. After they have written their response, they will share their observations for discussion. There will be individual work for students to choose literature from a variety of sources offered. The individual session will allow me to provide one on one support where needed. (Subsequent sessions will begin with a meal, sharing circle for check in and a sample piece of literature.)
A menu of options will be available for creative expression through writing, such as re-writing an ending, writing from another character’s perspective or changing one’s identity. Students could change a text to become a graphic novel, write a rap, continue journaling. Materials will be provided for drawing, painting, collage, modeling with clay. Use of DVD’s on history and culture will also be used in the program.
This program is a four-week, eight session program, two hours on Monday and Tuesday from 3:30-5:30. The program will begin in mid-March and end in mid-April. By the end of the program, students will have created a project to show to their families at the close.
I am a retired DOE teacher/administrator who has taught special education to Middle School students. The program will serve students from age 11-17. The funds raised will pay for books, journals, art materials, snacks for students and pay for gas and tolls to Mahwah, NJ from Westchester.
RAMAPOUGH Lenape NATION (MUNSEE)
March 6, 2019
To Whom It May Concern,
We at the Ramapough Lenape Community Center are looking forward to having an After-school program this spring. The Art and Literacy Lab will be a pilot program, six-weeks long, twelve sessions and will begin the work of providing an educational outlet for our middle to high school age students. I am looking forward to seeing our children engage in literacy and producing art work that they can be proud of as well as have the opportunity to engage in history and cultural practices. This is invaluable to our community and Mrs. Thombs is an experienced educator who will provide this program for us.
I heartily endorse The Art and Literacy Lab and am hoping that this program gets the funding support as it will greatly benefit our children.
Chief Dwaine Perry
Children’s Defense Fund...
Nowhere is the shadow of racism longer in American than when it comes to educational disparities. You can change this.
Our six-week, evidence-based program, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund, has been proven through rigorous research to improve literacy skills, build character and engage parents. During our first two summers, All Souls hosted the only CDF Freedom School in the state of Indiana. In 2017, we got 501(c)3 status, and in 2018 we launched a second site.
Thanks to our donors last year, 83% of our scholars experienced no summer-learning loss of gained literacy skills. Normally their peers would lose 2-3 months of reading ability; such summer learning loss, compounded year-after-year accounts for 50% of the achievement gap. Faithify is our single largest individual donor source. $125 covers the cost of a scholar’s program for one week. Thank you for helping us mitigate the educational disparity gap that keeps so many of our children behind.
There have been three waves of “Freedom Schools” in American history, and Unitarian Universalists have been part of all three. Northern whites, often women, went to the South soon after emancipation to teach formally-enslaved persons to read. Then in 1964, as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the National Council of Churches and SNCC formed summer “Freedom Schools,” focused specifically on literacy, humanities, science and math. These schools, often “taught” by white, northern college students, also had a larger purpose: to show young, Southern black Americans that they were valued and to engage them in community problem-solving.
The Children’s Defense Fund has initiated the third wave with the development a modern, evidence-based summer learning and family engagement model. The model retains the historical focus on offering a culturally-appropriate program designed to empower and promote civic engagement and literacy. The model is defined by five essential components:
- High-quality academic enrichment, which includes age- and culturally-appropriate books that are part of an Integrated Reading Curriculum involving reinforcing activities, field trips and games.
- Parent and family involvement at multiple levels, from morning introductory activities to classroom assistance to supporting community projects.
- Social action and civic engagement by our children and youth so that they are prepared to be active citizens. Participants engage in solving community problems and do social justice work, including through a Children’s Defense Fund yearly National Day of Social Action.
- Intergenerational servant leadership development, by engaging college students and recent graduates to deliver the program, many of whom have had Freedom School experience themselves.
- Nutrition, health and mental health, by requiring programs to provide—at a minimum—two USDA-compliant meals and a snack each day of operation, while training staff to recognize the importance of providing therapeutic health and mental health services.
With your financial support, All Souls Unitarian Church would offer six-weeks of programming for 50 school-age children in summer 2019. Indianapolis has pervasive educational and opportunity disparities and our congregation sits in a high-need community. The church is in close proximity to two struggling public elementary schools. Robert Lee Frost is 87% African-American and over 80% free and reduced-price lunch. In 2014, only 51% of students passed both English and Math in ISTEP. Only 65% of students passed the IREAD-3. At Brook Park, 76% of students are African-American or Hispanic and over 76% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Only 52% passed ISTEP in 2014. Opportunity disparities in is high. Nearly 25% of individuals in the All Souls zip code (46226) live in poverty and nearly 40% of children live at or below the poverty level. We know from national-level research that poverty is correlated with fewer summer learning and other enrichment opportunities.
All Souls has already begun to build a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals committed to making a Freedom School a permanent fixture in Indianapolis. Our partners include, but are not limited to, the Indianapolis Freedom School Partnership (the umbrella organization we helped form), the neighborhood elementary schools near the church, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, neighborhood organizations, the League of Women Voters, the Indianapolis Public Library, and the education departments of Indiana University, Butler University, and Marion University.
“Indiana Black Expo, as the backbone support organization for the Your Life Matters Initiative, is in full support of All Souls’ endeavors with the development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis.” – Tanya Bell President & CEO Indiana Black Expo, Inc.
“The development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis is an important service and support for youth in the northeast part of our city. I applaud All Souls Unitarian Church for its vision and for making social justice visible for children who need a supportive community and gifts that participation in a Freedom School provides.” – Dr. Cindy Jackson, Positive Discipline Coordinator, IPS district, and member of the education committee of the Your Life Matters Task Force