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Introducing RVC’s new Operations Support Partners!

By Rainier Valley Corps

RVC recently added on new Operations Support Partners! RVC’s Operations Support Program provides capacity-building and back-office support for smaller, community-based organizations so that they can focus more of their resources on their mission. 

This program helps our partners to grow, save time, as well as run more efficiently and effectively. 

Read on to find out what these organizations are all about and the great work they’re currently doing! 

First Five Years & Beyond

What they do: 

First Five Years & Beyond (FFYB) focuses on ensuring that children from low-income families in Africa are given the opportunity to get an early start to begin and continue their education. Their programming serves the South King County area and provides parents with the resources and skills to advocate for their children and support early literacy in Africa. 

Why they are awesome: 

According to Janet Gboluma-Kalonji, Executive Director of FFYB, the organization runs the Kaleidoscope Play and Learn Group, which services children up to age 5. Their caregivers provide them with a space to practice school readiness skills and connect caregivers with resources to support their children. 

Janet is excited to announce that for this summer, they will be focusing on forming their education board, consisting of Liberian and African American parents to provide opportunities for parent leadership on the greater scale.

The organization is collaborating with Financial Beginnings to provide two months of financial literacy camp for children, ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade. They will, in addition, host financial literacy camps for middle and high schoolers, and their parents, to promote intergenerational learning.

“This project is important because money and banking is a central concept that is learned at an early age and follows us throughout our lives. … Understanding the banking system, investment, and credit is important for home ownership and financial progress,” said Janet.

How RVC’s partnership will further their mission:

“We are excited about the partnership between RVC and FFYB because we believe it will help us improve our board leadership, and effectively implement our values and mission,” stated Janet. The administrative support will allow her to focus on further bolstering their current programming and plan for these upcoming plans, such as building the organization’s education board and hosting literacy camps.

Surge Reproductive Justice

What they do:

Surge Reproductive Justice (SRJ) is an organization that fights for communities whose bodies, lives, and families have been subject to state and social control. Their work involves ending reproductive oppression and ensuring access to reproductive health services and economic security for all people.

Why they are awesome:

According to Jackie Vaughn, Executive Director of SRJ, Surge is the only organization in the state of Washington that exclusively operates under the framework of reproductive justice. “This gives SRJ the responsibility and honor to organize in our communities under a framework that was developed by Black women who created the path for us to build power and create a world where all communities have their human rights and self-determination and autonomy,” said Jackie. 

SRJ is working with the government to ensure that all parents in the state of Washington have access to doulas through medicaid reimbursements. In addition, they want to encourage and support communities to become doulas. SRJ is excited to take the lead in creating a safe and supportive space for people of color and queer trans people. 

“We want to share their abortion stories and center their experiences and voices on this issue during this time of political attacks on our rights to abortions,” stated Jackie.

How RVC’s partnership will further their mission:

“Becoming an RVC partner has given our organization the ability to grow our work during this time of new leadership and direction of work,” stated Jackie. 

She is happy that, with RVC’s support, they are able to focus on the community organizing program, while “being able to increase our presence and the reproductive justice framework in critical policy decisions.” 

She also appreciates that this program has allowed SRJ to invest in leadership development, as they are in the process of training “our new Executive Director, who is a young woman of color and a first time Executive Director.”

WA-BLOC

What they do: 

WA-BLOC empowers youth of color through academic, creative, and place-based leadership. They envision intergenerational leadership, restorative justice, racial equity, and youth and parent engagement to achieve transformative educational excellence for Black and Brown youth in South Seattle.

Why they are awesome:

The organization is currently prepping for their summer Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools program. This is designed to build strong, literate, and empowered youth prepared to make a difference, not only for themselves and their families, but in their communities. 

The program is propelled by a curriculum that celebrates Black and Brown heroes and instruction centered on student voice and fostering collective social action. “In a nutshell, Freedom Schools is the vision and mission of our organization come to life: it is joy and  freedom to be fully ourselves, its community transformation, liberated education, intergenerational leadership development, and so much more,” said Laura Wright, WA-BLOC’s Co-Founder and Programs Director.

This summer marks the fifth year of CDF Freedom Schools at the Rainier Beach High School site. Five years ago, Freedom Schools scholars marched and advocated for transportation justice, which launched into a student-led campaign that ultimately resulted in the creation of the Youth Orca Program by the City of Seattle this past fall. Now, all Seattle Public Schools high school students receive free, year-round ORCA cards. These scholars are now graduating and are co-teaching their own Freedom Schools classes. 

“As an organization, we are constantly thinking of, ‘Who are we preparing to take our positions?’ And you can really see that in Freedom Schools — your leadership grows here and there is no limit,” said Laura.

How RVC’s partnership will further their mission:

“We are excited to be a part of RVC’s Operational Support Program because it allows us to grow as an organization without compromising our values,” explained Laura. She stated that RVC understands their vision and provides support by relieving pain points WA-BLOC has experienced as an organization, from robust HR policies to annual budgeting tools and access to benefits and insurance. She understands the significance of meeting operational needs. 

“We do not want to replicate dysfunction and inequities of the nonprofit industrial complex, yet want to be part of a collective, healthy ecosystem of thriving organizations embedded in our community,” said Laura.

AGE UP

What they do: 

All Girl Everything Ultimate Program (AGE UP) strengthens the Southend youth community through ultimate frisbee and other physical activities, organized by and for coaches, players, and alumni. AGE UP also runs social justice cohorts and hosts free summer camps and tournaments.

Why they are awesome:

AGE UP is running a summer internship right now, having almost 40 high schoolers working on different topics, led by alumni. These issues include food access, climate change, mental health, anti-Black racism in the Southend, gentrification, and more. They will share information on these topics at AGE UP’s middle school camp in a few weeks, as well as play and coach ultimate frisbee with more than 100 middle schoolers. After doing so, the internship will wrap up with a trip to Eastern Washington for an overnight retreat.

AGE UP runs three free week-long community summer camps, one each for elementary school, middle school, and high school at Van Asselt Community Center. 

“Summer is a time when we get to come together across school teams and build relationships outside of competition season, and dive deeper on issues that impact our lives,” said Hana Kawai, Co-Director of AGE UP.

How RVC’s partnership will further their mission:

“We know the nonprofit industrial complex is whack, and yet we’re working within this system with very little capacity to advocate for systems changes or even just build stronger relationships with other community-based organizations doing this work,” stated Hana. She knows the funding world keeps these organizations fighting for a tiny slice of the pie, but AGE UP doesn’t necessarily have the capacity or power to take on those battles. 

“RVC does and makes sure to carve out space for these types of conversations and relationship building necessary to fight for bigger picture goals,” Hana added. She credits RVC’s support in helping the organization with leadership transition and leadership development, through RVC’s Community Impact fellowship program.

Partners for Educational Reform and Student Success

What they do: Partners for Educational Reform and Student Success (PERSS)’s main goal is to build strong partnerships and move towards the total elimination of exclusionary discipline practices and the reduction of disproportionality in student outcomes.

Why they are awesome: PERSS is an organization grounded in the belief that all children, young people, and students can thrive in environments where our communities and culture are respected and nurtured. 

How RVC’s partnership will further their mission:

“I look forward to working with RVC closely,” said Patricia Cheadle, PERSS Executive Director. “We look forward to areas of collaboration in partnership development, community, business outreach and engagement, diversity in cultural training and lastly, the ability to become a self-sufficient nonprofit. We strive to operate and function successfully with the right tools within the next few years.” 

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