This month, 12 dedicated parents and allies completed the UConn People Empowering People Training : Special Needs Focus, an evidence based and innovative personal and family development program with a strong community focus. It is designed to build on the unique strengths and life experiences of participants. PEP helps participants focus on their own personal strengths and enhance their communication skills, problem solving abilities, parenting and relationship skills, and achieve a greater understanding of, and become more involved with their communities. The graduating class of Fall 2018 Co-sponsors included Step Up New London, New London Youth Affairs, New London Public Schools, Community Foundation of Eastern CT, and Liberty Bank.
In partnership with several local organizations and community members, Step Up New London supported local efforts to encourage voting. Together we registered a total of 17 people, including first-time voters, and folks across political parties. In addition, approximately 90-95 registered voters pledged to vote in the upcoming election by filling out pledge-postcards that we mailed back to them before the election. With donations received from community members, Step Up New London was able to create a visual display, sharing why members and allies vote. This display received a lot of attention and support when displayed at several locations from October to November.
We are so proud of young people in our community! Step Up NL and Hearing Youth Voices met together and discuss how the education system is impacting both students and parents. This semi-regular meeting supports the relationship between youth and parent organizers fighting for education justice.
Parents looking to take control of and increase their economic wealth joined us for our Financially Lit Workshop. Facilitated by Leon Gousman, parents learned financial literacy with support and education based around “The 3 Secrets of the Rich” (thinking, education, and action). This workshop included: Understanding basic financial terminology, underlying causes of money problems, reading financial statements, understanding different types of income, assets vs. a liabilities, different asset classes, savings & budgeting methods, retirement planning, taxes, tools to developing a wealthy mindset, and tools to develop our own financial plans.
Organizing for racial equity and social justice change is not just about skills but about our ability to understand systems, connect to our humanity, and strengthen relationships. This month, 16 parents and community members completed our 12-week training where folks dove into various topics critical to community organizing and civic engagement. Each week we discussed issues such as racism, sexism, capitalism and more; while also building a stronger analysis of how our community is experiencing it. In addition, participants learned of organizing efforts and revolutionaries who have resisted against injustice and strengthened the foundation of organizing and campaign development.
A special thank you to Emma Race and Connecticut College, Hispanic Alliance, IASC, Carlos Canales, Lizbeth Polo-Smith, Marleny Bencosme, Delia, Ella, Jennifer, Richard, and Javier. Additional thanks to our families, friends, and community members who showed unwavering support and encouragement in our movement towards social justice and liberation.
Story-telling has such a powerful impact and captures the experiences and histories a person and group of peoples embody. The connections that are made and the insight we gain through story-telling is powerful. April 20th, participants of Step Up New London's story-telling workshop series shared their stories of immigration during an Immigration Story Slam. This was a bi-lingual event and was free for everyone. Each story-teller brought different experiences however where connected through the journey of coming to America seeking a happy and prosperous life. The stories we heard highlights the struggles immigrant communities face truly brought the humanity into the conversation immigration and the need to actively support immigrant rights.
This opportunity was brought to us by Emma Race, a Connecticut College student, who approached Step Up New London seeking support for her senior project. Emma's hope was to support social justice organizing taking place in New London while still making sure the community impacted would be leading. During the 2-month workshop series, Carlos Canales, a college professor at Three Rivers Community College who himself immigrated to the U.S, facilitated and supported the personal development of participants in crafting and sharing stories. In addition to the Immigration Story Slam, the stories were published into a book titled, Voices Without Borders. This book can be purchased through Step Up New London where all proceeds specifically go back into this workshop series.
Step Up New London was excited to show up and offer support to the youth of New London in today's #nationalschoolwalkout. We were blown away to see the power young people hold and want to uplift the youth-led organizing that went into this!
This month, Step Up New London hosted Undoing Racism/Community Organizing Workshop led by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond in partnership with Hearing Youth Voices and FRESH New London. This is an intensive 2 ½ day training designed to educate, challenge, and empower people to undo the racist structures that hinder effective social change and implement anti-racist framework to ensure we become effective change agents who work collectively and in support of one another. We are graciously thankful for the support of the Perrin Family Foundation, William Graustein Memorial Fund, Community Foundation of Eastern CT, All Souls Universalist Congregation, and other who supported making this training a success. Together, we were able to make this information accessible to our New London parents, youth, community organizations, and allies. Not only were we able to host this 2 1/2 day intensive training, we were able to financially support several business and community members of color and reinvest money back into New London, CT.