When the libraries and schools in Los Angeles and other cities across the US closed because of the pandemic, my heart sank. I know how many kids rely on their local library for computer access and their school for a meal, and many of those kids are from underserved communities. The digital divide is a massive chasm that has left hundreds of thousands of kids behind their peers and devastated their emotional wellbeing. Every organization that has been serving kids in poor neighborhoods knows that children raised in poverty on average have few job opportunities and lower earnings. And with the coronavirus, the already inadequate systems of care are overrun.
Add to that, the Black Lives Matter movement continues to highlight hundreds of years of oppression and racism. The egregious and devastating harm to the Black community has been ignored for too long by many white people.
Before Luz and I founded KitHub in 2014, we ran the nonprofit organizations DIY Girls and Los Angeles Makerspace, respectively. Both LA-based organizations provide science and technology education to children that are not learning it in school and to make it easy for educators to facilitate the activities. The majority of kids that LA Makerspace and DIY Girls serve are from communities with Black and People of Color who are under-represented in STEM fields.
KitHub operates on the same beliefs and value system as the nonprofits we founded - children deserve equal educational opportunities regardless of where they live, their economic background, or the color of their skin. KitHub's customer demographics are similar to LA Makerspace and DIY Girls and include kids that attend Title 1 schools.
The truth is projects like these should not have to exist. The US education system should be equitable, teachers should earn a living wage, and families should be provided with the support they need so they can go to work and know their children are safe and cared for before and after school. "Underserved children" is a term that we should not have to use in 2020.
In keeping with our values and our mission to support inclusive and equitable education in learning science and technology, we commit to the following:
- Review and update all the language that we use in our lesson plans and communication to ensure it is inclusive,
- Highlight and elevate marginalized voices in STEM and environmental fields,
- Ensure our projects are affordable and accessible,
- Provide projects that don't require a computer or internet access,
- Listen and implement feedback from our Black community members including educators to keep us honest in our mission and to stay true to our values.
Kids need to survive and thrive, which requires the US education and healthcare systems to serve them and not rely on nonprofits to do the heavy lifting. Please support these efforts as a high priority when it's time to vote, and please consider donating to LA Makerspace and DIY Girls.
I'm always available if you would like to share thoughts or ideas with me - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a list of anti-racist resources from educational sites that we rely on to gain a greater understanding of the world around us.
Common Sense Media
Parenting in support of Black lives. Through 400 years of systemic oppression and racism, our nation has failed to protect and value Black children and families. How do we support a future where all children are valued? And when we're parenting amid crisis and trauma, how can we find support for ourselves and our kids? Our conversation will center on these important questions and provide practical, how-to advice for talking about race and inspiring kids to fight for racial equity. The event will feature Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, leading scholar on race in America in conversation with Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times bestselling author and activist, moderated by child psychologist Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith.
20 recent non-fiction books, memoirs, and histories on the topic of race, written by Black American authors. While by no means a comprehensive list, these books are a good place to start. All published in the past two years, they share the distinction of being widely read and highly rated by Goodreads members—every title has an average 4-star rating or above.
Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
Anti-Racist Resources from Greater Good. In response to the killing of unarmed black people by police, we gathered Greater Good pieces that explore our potential to reduce prejudice in society and in ourselves.
Resources to Support Anti-Racist Learning. The Greater Good Education team offers readings, practices, and other resources to support anti-racist educators.
The Bridging Differences Playbook synthesizes the core skills and strategies that support positive dialogue, relationships, and understanding between groups or individuals across political, racial, religious, or other divides. It's based on wisdom and best practices from decades of scientific studies, interviews with dozens of leaders, and groundbreaking programs tackling these issues today.
Raising Race Conscious Children
A resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children. The goals of these conversations are to dismantle the color-blind framework and prepare young people to work toward racial justice.
Teaching For Change
Teaching for Change provides teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world.
Classroom Resources. Teaching about race, racism and police violence. From film kits and lesson plans to the building blocks of a customized Learning Plan—texts, student tasks and teaching strategies—our resources will help you bring relevance, rigor and social emotional learning into your classroom—all for FREE.