RARE and Urban League Expand the Connections Program Through Strategic Partnership

/ April 12, 2024

Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity (RARE) and Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) have joined forces to expand the Connections program, aiming to tackle racial inequities in schools by promoting a sense of belonging and leadership among students.

Central to this collaboration is the new role of a full-time Youth Engagement Coordinator, a position funded jointly by RARE and ULMS. The Coordinator will spearhead the Connections program at Roosevelt High and Garfield High, focusing on crucial areas such as student recruitment, curriculum development, workshop facilitation, and the organization of community-building action plans. Furthermore, the Coordinator will serve as a vital liaison with school staff, ensuring that the program integrates smoothly with the schools’ objectives.

To sustain and grow the program, RARE and ULMS will work together to secure additional funding. This effort involves applying for grants and reaching out to both new and past donors, leveraging the combined strengths and networks of both organizations to support the Connections initiative.

RARE’s foundation is deeply rooted in the experiences of its alumni, who, recognizing the racial disparities they observed and faced during their school years, are now committed to ensuring today’s students do not encounter the same obstacles. This multi-generational, racially, culturally, and ethnically diverse group is dedicated to effecting positive change within the educational system.

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, part of the esteemed National Urban League, is renowned for its commitment to advancing racial equity. With a rich history of supporting youth through various programs and initiatives, the ULMS brings a wealth of experience and dedication to this partnership, enhancing the program’s reach and impact.

Connections breaks down barriers and brings together diverse groups of students, so they get to know one another as individuals. The program has two components: learning and doing. First we teach students about belonging and leadership in a series of workshops. Then we support the students as they put those concepts into practice by organizing community-building activities or action plans. These efforts aim to cultivate an expanding network of student leaders who advocate for a welcoming and inclusive school culture, ensuring all students, regardless of background, feel valued and have equal access to educational opportunities.

Dr. Tarance Hart, Principal at Garfield High, noted the visible need for such a program:

“As you walk through the halls of Garfield, you witness the rich diversity that is our strength. The Connections program is an important initiative for leveraging this diversity, facilitating meaningful interactions among students from various backgrounds. This program is an essential step towards bridging any divides and cultivating a vibrant school culture where every student is actively involved with the diverse tapestry of our community.”

Roosevelt Principal Tami Brewer expressed her support:

RARE’s Connections program will provide excellent opportunities for students of different backgrounds and cultures to share meaningful and fun extracurricular experiences, and to deepen their understanding of racial issues. Shared experiences of this kind can create life-long learning and friendships.”

This collaboration between RARE and ULMS signifies a profound commitment to inclusivity and empowerment, poised to create lasting change in Seattle’s school communities. The Connections program has shown promising results in strengthening community bonds among students and is set to become a transformative element in promoting equity and belonging within the educational system.