Project Update: Student...
The UU Congregation of the Lowcountry (Bluffton, SC) sends us an update on their successfully funded project, Student Tech Connect: Our Faithify campaign raised $4,100 for Student Tech Connect. These funds came from generous donations of UU Congregation of the Lowcountry (UUCL) members and friends, and from UU friends across the country. Hear inspiring stories […]
Student Tech Connect
Your money is needed to further Student Tech Connect. Student Tech Connect has successfully helped financially underprivileged students connect online with their teachers and classrooms. Still, many more students need help. Beaufort county, on the coast of South Carolina, is a wealthy county. There are a string of counties along the I95 corridor known as the corridor of shame due to long term chronic underfunding of their school districts. Students in these districts are in dire need.
The youth of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry (UUCL) realized the impact that the coronavirus had on classmates who don’t have access to their online teachers and classes. Members of the UUCL’s Social Action committee were concerned about the pandemic’s pandemic’s growing disparity of educational opportunity. So the two committees joined forces to become the Religious Education Social Justice committee (RESJ). Although many synergies were discovered in the combined committees, we quickly realized the problem’s size and complexity meant we would need partners.
The RESJ joined forces with the Martin Luther King committee for Justice to add their weight to Student Tech Connect, a program to help financially underprivileged students connect online with their teachers and classrooms and improve their learning experience. The partnering by itself was a huge success, with nearly 10% of our congregants newly serving on MLK committees and establishing working relationships.
The next step in the process was to identify the underprivileged students and what they need to connect with their teachers and classrooms. Obviously, we don’t know which students were underprivileged, but the school district has that information. So we partnered with the school district and its Superintendant, Dr. Frank Rodriguez. Dr. Rodriguez had already negotiated a very favorable discount for internet connectivity for needy students.
Student Tech Connect has been so successful that we now have several funding sources so we have partnered with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. The Community Foundation disperses funds to the school district to purchase hardware and pay rental fees. The Foundation also disbursed funds to the internet service provider. The Foundation also has established donors that Student Tech Connect will be able to access.
Our partnerships with the MLK committee, the school district, and the Community Foundation have greatly increased UUCL’s incarnational growth. We are becoming much better known in the community for our justice work.
2020 MVUUF Teen Trek to UU-UNO Spring Seminar
UPDATE Mar 13, 2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this campaign has been closed. Any pledges made will NOT be processed. Thank you.
In light of recent developments with COVID-19, the UU-UNO has cancelled the in-person events for the Spring Seminar. Our MVUUF Teen Group will not be making the trip. Thanks to those who were willing to donate!
Original Description follows for archive purposes.
SUPPORTING A NEW GENERATION OF
CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTIVISTS
Your donation to this project will fund travel expenses for youth and sponsors to attend the 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar in New York City. Our youth and sponsors have each funded their own registration fees. Your Faithify donations will go towards transportation, meals, and other associated expenses for the trip as they travel from Dayton, OH to New York City. We have set our fundraising goal to match projected expenses, and we need $500 per traveler to cover our costs. Any extra funds raised this year will be put to use in future trips as we seek to make this a biennial event for the youth in our congregation.
The 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar theme is “All In For Climate Justice: People, Power, Planet.” The conference will take place April 16-18 in New York City. Through worship, panel discussions, skills-building workshops, and small-group collaboration, participants will learn and grow together as they explore UU centered responses to vital global climate challenges.
This year, we have six youth (Avery, Travis, Zane, Matthew, Yemaya, and Genna) and three adult sponsors (Shaun, Richard, and Lathe) registered to attend. This record attendance from our congregation is the best indication of the value of the conference to our youths’ growth in social activism. MVUUF Youth who participate in the trip will:
- Gain deeper understanding of the UU-UNO’s climate justice work with the United Nations and the world
- Develop a broader sense of UU community as they connect with UU youth from across the country and other nations who share similar values
- Practice leadership skills by engaging the MVUUF congregation in the UU-UNO mission upon their return
Some pictures from last year’s trip are included below!
Help our MidMaine YoUUth service project team get to Safe Passage/Camino Seguro in Guatemala City this July!
UPDATE April 9, 2020: DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN CLOSED. ANY PLEDGES MADE WILL NOT BE PROCESSED. THANK YOU.
Safe Passage let us know they are canceling all visitors for 2020, so it’s off. Our general plan is to reschedule to next year. Thanks to those who were willing to donate!
Original Description follows for archive purposes.
Safe Passage/Camino Seguro is a top-rated charity working in Guatemala City since 1999 to bring hope, education, and opportunity to the children and families trying to make a living around the city’s garbage dump—one of the largest landfills in Central America. Their mission: “We help children in the Guatemala City garbage dump community break the cycle of poverty through education, emphasizing life skills and perseverance in order to thrive in work and contribute to their community.”
Our group of UU youth and adult leaders will serve as Support Teams at Safe Passage for a week, engaging with “affiliates of all ages – from the littlest learners in the Jardín to the women in Creamos.” We will learn about Safe Passage and their programs while we provide valuable assistance: in English classes, as classroom assistants, planning and leading activities in our Escuilita English classes, meeting and working with the women-artisans of Creamos (buying their fabulous jewelry), and supporting the operations team with much-needed tasks, etc. It is a hand-on opportunity to see how an organization clear in its mission can make a difference, and give us the opportunity to do so as well by showing up and helping out.
Our MidMaine YoUUth group has been preparing and fundraising for this trip for the last 18 mos. Last year, we studied about and engaged with our Wabanaki neighbors, learning about our shared, painful history. This year, as we prepare to go to Guatemala, the lessons from Maine are helping us understand more about the conditions for indigenous people in Guatemala, including discrimination, poverty, and lack of education. and opportunity. Our time with Safe Passage will change our lives.
The participants each make a personal contribution of $600, collected over two years to ensure it is affordable for any of the youth in our congregations who want to participate. These personal dues cover about 25% of the total cost. The rest we raise through an ask to our individual friends and family, as well as the members of our four congregations. This Faithify campaign is a way of extending the reach of our ask throughout our UU denomination, while spreading the word about Safe Passage/Camino Seguro (https://www.safepassage.org/) and our collaborative youth program. We are proud of what we have and will accomplish together!
All Souls’ Children’s...
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, our parternship launched a second site. This will be our fifth summer offering this impactful program.
Thanks to our donors last year, 84% 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, covering just over 20% of our program costs. $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 40 school-age children in summer 2020. 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
International Youth Pilgrimage
The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and the Országos Dávid Ferenc Ifjúsági Egylet (ODFIE)—the youth wing of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvania and Hungary—are proud to collaborate on a pilgrimage and summer camp in Transylvania. The pilgrimage/camp will take place in July 2020. The UUPCC and ODFIE last collaborated on a highly successful summer camp in 2016. ODFIE runs the largest Unitarian or Unitarian Universalist youth camp operation in the world.
The UUPCC interviewed an impressive number of applicants before selecting fifteen North American youth who will go on the trip. The exceptional youth accepted on the trip come from coast to coast. ODFIE will choose a roughly equal number of Transylvanian youth to join in the experience.
During the pilgrimage and youth camp, we intend to foster community through encouraging personal connections between cultures and empowering youth through discussion groups, home visits with local families, camp games, etc. The group will also visit culturally and religiously significant sites in Unitarianism to help them grow in their own spirituality and knowledge of our faith. These sites will include Déva where Francis David died in prison, Torda where the Edict of Torda was debated and proclaimed, and Gyulafehérvár where early Unitarian leaders King John Sigismund and his mother Queen Isabella are buried. ODFIE will choose a service project for North American and Transylvanian youth to work on together. Before the pilgrimage and youth camp, we will work with youth and their advisors to ensure their cultural competency and preparedness for an intense and transformational journey. This will include Zoom sessions as well as a few days together in New York City before flying to Transylvania.
Visiting Transylvania—in many ways the birthplace of Unitarianism—and getting to know kinfolk in faith from a different country will help North American youth participants grow deeper spiritually and become more skilled at intercultural engagement. They will experience firsthand some of our most important religious roots, as well as our faith’s rich past and deep, complicated present. Building cross-cultural community through shared activities, worship, common meals and visiting sacred sites will help participants sharpen their community building skills and create lifetime friendships. More than anything, they will learn about themselves and their spiritual journey through leaving their ordinary rhythm and living in a liminal space full of adventure and opportunity. Through this pilgrimage/camp, they each have the possibility to return home a changed person.
We hope that the pilgrimage/camp will deepen youth participants’ sense of UU identity and strengthen their commitment to continue engaging with our faith as they bridge into adulthood. Young adults who have had deep experiences of our faith such as this will help our faith thrive for many decades to come. In their own unique way, each youth who goes on the pilgrimage/camp could make important and lasting contributions to U/U congregations in North America and internationally.
The North American youth will be accompanied by three adults over twenty-five years old. The advisors will include a minister and a religious educator. The process of selecting the advisors and every aspect of the trip will be guided by the UUA’s youth safety guidelines.
The cost for the North American youth and adult advisors to go on the trip is around $2,100 per youth. A grant from the UU Funding Program and (hopefully) a successful Faithify campaign will help make the trip affordable for every youth who has been accepted into the program. Reaching the Faithify campaign goal of $10,000 will pay for about 60% of the youth overseas airline tickets. Additional funding will come from the UU Partner Church Council, fundraisers at the youths’ congregations, and youth families.
New Couches for First UU Syracuse Youth Group
The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse youth group, Teenz, currently has five couches. Four of the couches are like the one pictured below. These couches are plastic, and are cold and uncomfortable to sit on. The blue one pictured is also broken.
As a result, a past group of teenagers went to the church’s annual garage sale and physically carried a couch from the sale back to the teen room. That couch is pictured below.
Couches may seem to fade into the background. In reality, though, they are a cornerstone for warm and welcoming youth ministry. They set a tone for the room, and literally support youth in their faith formation. These current couches have held joy and laughter and leadership and companionship. They are also now past due to be replaced.
We want our Teenz know that, while they are clearly resourceful, they don’t have to scrounge for used couches at a garage sale. Our teenagers are amazing. Let’s give them, and future youth, something new and beautiful.
We estimate that new couches will cost about $3,000. Fortunately, a generous youth parent has offered to match donations dollar for dollar up to $1,500. Please donate, and help us reach our goal of providing a more loving space for First UU youth.
Youth Captures: Our Life After Hurricane Michael (A Youth-led Photo Voice Project)
Hurricane Michael made landfall at 2 pm EDT on October 10, 2018 in Bay County, FL with top sustained winds of 155 mph; altering the lives of families profoundly to this day. One of the greatest challenges has been housing. Thousands of families have been displaced from their homes, leaving climate-induced trauma to children.
Bay District Schools has been reporting on this trauma, and continuously advocates for resources and support for their students. Five months after the hurricane, Bay Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt spoke before the State Board of Education about homelessness and the mental health struggles of Bay County Schools.
“More than 70 percent of the apartments in Panama City are uninhabitable. Before the storm, there were 738 homeless students in the district. Now, there are more than 4,800,” Husfelt shared, “[There have been 700] Community of Care referrals to mental health agencies. We’ve had 70 Baker Acts since we’ve reopened, 35 since Feb. 25th, 62 since Christmas Break.”
As school begins this Fall and almost a year after Hurricane Michael, the effects of the storm continue to linger. Families are still living in temporary or sub-standard housing, including: RVs, tents, sheds, cars, substandard trailers or houses, living with friends or families, FEMA trailers, hotels, motels, and weekly rentals with no lease.
This Photo Voice project is meant to help 10 teens in Bay County, Florida share their stories in their own voices, with their own pictures, and see the world through their eyes. It will be a close look into the reality that they and their families have to endure. With their photos, people will see the stories that aren’t usually covered by traditional media.
Initially, their photographs will be shared with the Bay County Community during a special event later this year, and subsequently with other coalitions and organizations via a pop-up exhibit.
The life journeys of our youth inform our future. Lived events shared in personal stories have the power to open hearts and minds, and inspire us to collective action. People can change their communities for the better, and understanding the lives of people in difficult circumstances better prepares us to work together to change conditions that affect their lives.
What is a Photo Voice Project?
Photo Voice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.
About The Exhibit:
The exhibit will consist of 10 stories, with 5 images associated with each. The images will be printed on canvas; and a QR code will enable visitors to scan the code and listen to the narratives in the teens’ voices. If the budget allows, there will be a printed booklet of the images and accompanying narratives.
Who are the Collaborating Partners?
Our partner in Bay County is well positioned to support youth: LEAD County Coalition of Bay County. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Empowerment, and Authentic Development.
The mission of LEAD Coalition of Bay County is to facilitate collaborative work toward increasing safety, building trust, and restoring neighborhoods in the City of Panama City and its surrounding areas. The LEAD Coalition of Bay County is a diverse, public-private partnership among a cross sector community organizations and agencies.
What are the Project Specifics?
Location: Project participants will meet weekly and at the LEAD Coalition’s Special Event unveiling the exhibit.
Timeline: September 2019 – November 2019
Point of Contact: The Project Manager will be a young adult affected by the Hurricane Michael housing crisis, and Ana Maria De La Rosa, Senior Grassroots Organizer for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will facilitate the project.
What is the process for this Photo Voice project?
- Kickoff Meeting with UUSC facilitator
- Photography and Weekly Gatherings with the Project Manager
- Photo Selection and Narrative Polishing with UUSC facilitator
- Exhibit Preparation with all partners assisting
The Budget Narrative:
Dollars donated to this campaign will be used to print the photographs on canvas, and prepare them for display. Funds will also be used to prepare the exhibit itself, including preparing the QR codes to accompany the display and the recordings prepared by the students.
The cameras, stipend for the Project Manager from Bay County, and funding for the UUSC facilitator will be funded by UUSC.
LEAD Coalition will provide grant administration, event planning for the exhibit showcase, and coordination with the high school. The high school will provide the meeting space, and facilitate the identification of students to participate in the project.
Suggested Budget Spending:
Ana Maria De La Rosa Covered by UUSC
Project Manager Stipend Covered by UUSC
10 Cameras Covered by UUSC
Exhibit/QR Code Supplies $500
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)
50 Photos on Canvas $2,000
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)
Ana Maria De La Rosa Covered by UUSC
Grant Administration Covered by the LEAD Coalition
Exhibit/Gala Covered by the LEAD Coalition
Help a Small Congregation offer OWL
Free Church Unitarian is a congregation of 50 members in Blaine, Washington. The congregation will be offering Our Whole Lives programming for youth for fourth, fifth and sixth grade youth. Our Whole Lives is comprehensive fact-based sexuality education. The class helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality. OWL empowers youth to make informed responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. Your contribution will support UU youth and a thriving small congregation.
The OWL class is supported by the minister Reverend Amy Moses-Lagos, the Religious Education Coordinator Lisa Moeller, and the Board of Trustees of Free Church Unitarian. Two members of the congregation plan to take the OWL training in Bellevue, Washington in September. The class for youth will begin in October. Of the money raised, $590 will cover the registration fee and travel costs for two adults to participate in the teacher training. $120 will cover the cost to purchase the curricula. $300 will cover the cost for a hotel room for 2 nights.
Youth Group Immigration Justice Immersion Learning Trip to Tucson, AZ
We have 9 youth from the Mount Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek, CA youth group and 3 adult advisors traveling to Tucson, Arizona on July 28th to Aug 1st to participate in a learning immersion experience on immigration justice. This is with UUCSJ’s Youth Activate program (uucsj.org/activatetucson/)!
In Tucson they will engage in a program of interactive immigration justice education in order to have a better understanding of immigration justice issues and develop skills for continued advocacy in our Contra Costa communities.
This Campaign will help us get there!
In preparing for this journey we have been fundraising within our congregation all year. Through congregational lunches, the Holiday Craft Faire, donut & bagel sales, grant money through UUCSJ, family contributions, and a car wash, we are well on our way to meeting our fundraising needs. This campaign is our last piece of the puzzle. We are within $3000 of our goal to fund this trip. This Faithify campaign is one of our last efforts to cover the added costs of sending such an abundance of people.
We are hoping to raise at least $1500 to help close the funding gap and ensure the program is accessible for all participants. If you donate and we raise $1500, or more, that money will be collected and go toward our travel funds (if we do not raise $1500 no money will be collected from anyone).
Any donations made that exceed our Faithify goal of $1500 will help us further meet the funding need of $3000!
Thank you from the youth group of MDUUC!
Why do we go to Tucson, AZ?
MDUUC has made a commitment to better understanding and working towards immigration justice through multiple methods, such as accompaniment efforts with immigrants and becoming a physical sanctuary church. This program is an opportunity for our teens to gain greater experience with the pressing issue of immigration justice and be able to connect with and support the work their congregation is prioritizing. By collaborating with local organizers who are welcoming and affirming across age, sexuality, gender, race, economics, and physical abilities, and participating on reflections of race and class our youth group participants will learn how to apply our faith’s values into the wider world.
Our participants will be sharing about their experience and what they learned at MDUUC’s August 11th worship service.
For your generous contributions to our campaign, and if we reach our goal, our youth and advisers will thank you in the following fabulous ways:
- For a $15 contribution … you’ll receive a thank you in the worship service’s order of service on August 11th!
- For a $30 contribution…you’ll receive the same thank you and an original “I support youth ministry at MDUUC Button!”
- For a $50 contribution, or higher! …you’ll receive a personalized thank you note with youth group artwork on it as well as a all of the above!
Family/youth participation for UUA GA 2019
My name is Elshender Taylor. I am asking for your help to go to the general assembly as a youth leader in Spokane, Washington in June. My vision is to help with a summer camp that my church is beginning and to expand our congregational youth program within the coming year. The TORCH youth group at our UU Clearwater congregation is a highlight of my social life. We are interested in things that make a difference in our community and world such as race relations and actions that will impact climate change. I am a sophomore at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts studying stage design and management.
My parents live separately, near each other and both are supportive of my interests and studies. I also participate in a Sea Scouts troop and assist seniors at a nursing home where my father works as a nurse.
I intend to help with a summer camp this summer and become a leader in my youth group, especially since there is going to be many more young people join our youth group, we anticipate to our group being 140% larger when school starts.
Although my mother is not currently a Unitarian, I have convinced her to go with me to the GA along with my father, older brother, and his girlfriend. My father will serve as our congregational delegate. He had emergency surgery this month which makes our financial commitment to the GA more difficult. My goal is to get 1220 dollars to cover my portion of the expenses for attending the GA.
$1220 in total for my goal
Which is $312 for 6 nights lodging.
The registration fee for GA is $240 and the Airfare is $518 and $150 for meals and incidentals.
Help Send Crash...
Crash (they/them pronouns) is a dedicated, vital member of the youth group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. They are raising funds to attend Thrive Leadership School this summer in order to deepen their connection to their Unitarian Universalist peers of color, explore their faith, and enhance their leadership skills.
They are raising funds to help offset the cost of registration and transportation from Buffalo, NY to Minneapolis, MN.
“Crash has been an amazing leader in our youth group and the congregation at large. They have made deep and profound connections among the Unitarian Universalist youth of upstate New York. Making sure that Crash has the funding to attend Thrive this summer so they can connect with other UU youth of color is an utmost priority of our youth program.” – Sarah Martin, Director of Religious Education, Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo