Hi everyone, MPF has been busy! Last week, we celebrated our mid-year meeting with Fellows and Supervisors.. This is the time where Fellows and their supervisors get to join forces outside of the office and put their expertise together to enrich their programs. After coffee and conversation, we began our session with a networking activity, which was kicked off by our Senior Fellow Ashley Harton-Powell. Fellows and Supervisors got the chance to share best practices and discuss different ways to collaborate and problem solve with partners from across the state. Our Senior Fellows, along with MPF staff, Lauren Currie and Cecelia Auditore, facilitated the different groups, which included Youth Leadership & Youth Voice, Youth Engagement (Getting Youth Involved/Motivated), Parent Engagement, Recruitment and Retention, College & Career Access, Volunteer Recruitment, and Opportunities for Partnership. Supervisors and Fellows enjoyed this time unpacking challenges at their sites and were able to share resources that can support their various programs.
Classism was the topic for our Friday meeting and Fellows were graced with the presence of MPF Alum Carro Hứa for a second time. As she walked us through the framework of class and the unequal distribution of wealth and resources, Fellows were able to identify these themes within the communities they serve and live in order to understand how they impact their service at their host-sites. Whether it had to do with education or asset building, we all began to unpack the lack of resources in underrepresented areas. Fellows were able to connect this to slavery, since slaves were unable to acquire wealth, even from the lands they labored on. Even after slavery was abolished, Blacks did not always find work, and if they did, were not paid enough to purchase land. One of our fellows asked the question, “How do you even begin to beat that system, and as we began to see how deeply embedded this idea was, we were able to make connections between the systemic class and race issues that impact our youth.
As we pondered on all of this knowledge and gave ourselves a minute to digest the information in silence, we were given the chance to go into our own family history and see what class structure we fell in. Some Fellows stated that after Carro’s presentation their ideas changed about where they fell in terms of class. They shared their stories and some mentioned that they always thought they were middle class, but realized they were considered low class, while others felt they were low class and were actually considered middle class.
Fellows display visual storytelling of their classed experiences
To close out our session we broke into action working groups to begin developing topics we felt would be beneficial to our youth. Those topics were chosen by the Fellows, which included: Financial Planning, Literacy Curriculum, Divesting from Capitalism/Alternative Economics, Classism/Anti Oppression in Curriculum, Addressing Consumer Culture, and Supporting Youth with their Classed Experiences. Collectively we will continue this work of breaking down the stigma that comes with being a part of a certain class status, and educate the youth we serve on ways they can accrue wealth and set themselves and their families up for success.