Greetings from PLAN!
We are excited to share with you the stories of transformation in our staff blogs below. But first I have an update on our leadership transition. As folks often say, even the best-laid plans go astray. The plans we make at PLAN are no exception.
Our Interim Executive Director Patricia St. Onge has regretfully stepped down for medical reasons. We are so grateful for her contributions to PLAN. Pat, we wish you a speedy recovery and thank you for your ongoing support.
With this unexpected change in plans has come the exciting opportunity to develop our internal leadership capacity. I am happy to announce that PLAN’s board has appointed Associate Director Pecolia Manigo to the role of Acting Executive Director during the remainder of the transition period.
All the good work we did to prepare for the transition process has put us in a great position for Pecolia to be an effective Acting E.D. Along with our dedicated staff and board, we are confident she will skillfully steward the organization and ensure a strong process for on-boarding new leadership this year.
I hope you will join me in supporting Pecolia in her new role with PLAN as we reach more families to transform schools into the centers of excellent education every child deserves! Read on to hear more about our work.
In thanks for your support,
PLAN Board Chair
Towards a Family Leadership Framework
by Enrique Valencia
It’s an early Saturday morning in East Oakland. We’re gathered in a community center. Representatives from organizations, teachers, parents and students are meeting to discuss strategies for robust engagement rooted in student success. There is a request for students to weigh in. Richard, at age 16 is the eldest son of Eleazar, walks up from his seat 20 feet away and joins the table. In previous meetings where the primary audience was parents, Richard would attend and do his thing away from the group. He challenged the trend that Saturday morning. Richard proceeded to introduce himself: “My name is Richard. I am Eleazar’s son and I am here because I don’t want my little sister and my little brother to suffer the same injustices I did when I was their age.”
Our approach in leadership development is rooted in the belief that if you increase the skill and capacity of a parent you do so for those individuals surrounding them as well. It is like lifting a tree up from the ground; the roots get lifted, too. Eleazar, a Latina parent leader at Esperanza, first got involved with PLAN through our Parents Ready for School workshop series in the fall of 2014. She was intrigued with the training she received and began to investigate a little bit more. In time she began to like what she found, especially our approach to transformative family engagement. Fast forward to 2016, Eleazar has participated in various PLAN-supported transformative processes, like managing a campaign for traffic safety and Esperanza, recruiting and supporting a team of parent leaders for increased family engagement and is now entering into the role of membership fellow, where she will use her skills (increased confidence, public speaking, asking the right question and a partnership approach to problem-solving) gained to support with making PLAN’s membership vision real. Inspired by Richard’s giving voice to his values, we asked Eleazar why she decided to share her story in this newsletter? She shared her experience, “So that other parents can see that we can make a difference”.
Richard believes that speaking up is the only way we will make a change.For him, education means everything when addressing the many challenges in his community. And his vision is powerful. He wants “…everyone to make ‘bank,’ to see people helping with what the community needs and for everyone to have a good life.” For us to get there, he believes that we need to be bigger, stronger and to have more successes in schools. He believes that it begins by becoming involved with PLAN just like his family has. We believe so, too. The transformation we need to close the disparity present in (and across) schools begins with parents and students speaking up and developing their leadership capacity.
We’re here to support and we invite you to join our work.
All In for Parent Leadership
by Alexandra Shane
In December 2015, PLAN held Listening Sessions across District 7 through the initiative All In. The initiative launched by Alameda County hopes to eliminate poverty in Alameda County.
More than 60 African American, Latin American and Filipino families participated in our Listening Sessions held at REACH Academy, Madison Park Academy and through phone interviews. The Listening Sessions allowed parents and community members to discuss the things they feel most proud about in their community and the changes they would like to see to support them in being healthy.
One of the 8 questions asked during the Listening Sessions was: Can youth in your community find the kind of jobs they are interested in? Grandmother Maria Elena Camacho answered “No! I would like to see students who attend Oakland schools to be able to find [good] jobs here in Oakland when they graduate.”
We learned plenty of things from the families that attended Listening Sessions. For me as an Organizer, it was a great opportunity to hear our parent’s stories of what they were proud of in their community. I enjoyed the insight and thoughtfulness parents displayed in their conversations and look forward to the engagement of all parents in the future ALL IN Initiatives to bring healthy food options, affordable housing and quality living wage jobs to East Oakland and Alameda County.
For the organization, we learned how valuable resources play in East Oakland families survival. In addition, we learned how critical families view creating unity between Black and Brown communities, especially in the midst of such startling gentrification. Most importantly, we learned how connected their leadership development is to their children’s future access and opportunity to be self-sufficient.
We are excited that many parents see themselves as the community leaders that will organize around these issues to improve community outcomes in East Oakland. We look forward to conducting more engagement opportunities on education and community issues in the future to keep parent leaders grounded in the current issues and priorities of the community.