Love and Liberation for a Great Education

By United Way of King County, on October 6, 2022 | In Helping Students Graduate, News, Racial Equity

When it comes to offering equitable opportunity in education to students of color, America has historically earned an “F” grade.

Anti-literacy laws once prohibited enslaved and free Black people to read or write. State-sponsored mandates post-Civil War guaranteed substandard learning for segregated minority children. Resistance to creating inclusive curriculums for all children hampered progress for the poor and marginalized years following the Brown v. Board of Education verdict.

It should be no surprise that to this day, some BIPOC students have struggled under America’s education system. It wasn’t meant for them in the first place. Often, they’ve been left to accept and assimilate into schools and school districts that don’t incorporate their cultures, their heritages and their uniqueness into the curriculum.

But that’s changing.

Thanks to a series of afterschool programs launched by United Way of King County and 14 BIPOC-led, community-based organizations, children of color are receiving an education reinforcing positive cultural identity to engage young people in their own history, race and culture. Love and Liberation is designed to keep BIPOC youth engaged and to persist with their education. It helps build leadership development and advocacy skills by drawing strength from their identity, race and culture.

Love and Liberation aligns with United Way’s efforts to place children on a path toward success in education during the early learning years. Understanding that communities of color are best suited to lead the way in solving their problems, United Way supports the work of the 14-member Racial Equity Coalition.

Race Equity Coalition members are:

Love and Liberation was launched as, not surprisingly, graduation rates for King County students of color have long stagnated. According to Communities Count, when gauging graduation rates by race and ethnicity, Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander students were less likely to graduate from high school on time that their white counterparts.

Students in King County schools recently completed the first year of Love and Liberation in schools after the program was implemented via funded from the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) and United Way. The 14 organizations that created the program also launched Love and Liberation curriculums for students in their communities.

Those curriculums included:

  • A Brown Roots of Mahal program at Filipino Community of Seattle that specialized in listening to youth and engaging with them through feedback on their interests. Brown Roots of Mahal provided space for students to explore, express, and share their cultural and personal identities.
  • Powerful Voices hosted a nine-week summer program called Black Girls Create, which gave young Black girls opportunities to tap into their creative sides while reflecting on such topics as racism, sexism and unhealthy relationships. The program led to positive adult support and partnerships with community leaders.
  • furnished a mental health therapist to work with youth on supporting positive coping skills to deal with remote school and the pandemic causing depression, anxiety and isolation. The organization worked to ensure that the mental and physical health of our student population be prioritized for students to successfully participate in its programs.
  • Red Eagle Soaring administered a $1,500 scholarship to one of its youths who hard of hearing. Red Eagle Soaring boosted her connections in the community and ultimately her confidence. The student will attend Gallaudet University, a Washington, D.C., university specifically designed for deaf and hard of hearing students.
  • 4C Coalition’s Wellness Mentoring Circles bring youth and mentors together utilizing a structured, community-building curriculum facilitated by the Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement.

The results of Love and Liberation were seen almost immediately by the students who have participated:

  • 99% of Love and Liberation participants reported having developed a positive cultural identity.
  • 91% of participants reported that they feel supported by the community in navigating and disrupting the so-called school-to-prison pipeline.
  • 92% of participants reported developing a sense of belonging to their schools and/or communities.

As the nation—and King County—grow more racially, ethnically and culturally diverse, Love and Liberation has made strides in using culture and heritage hand-in-hand with education. It celebrates children when they do well and fosters a learning environment where they feel valued, respected and supported. United Way applauds the 14 members of the Racial Equity Coalition in making this valuable work possible.



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