RARE’s Year End Reflections – 2023

/ December 15, 2023

Dear RARE Supporters
Three and a half years ago, in response to the killing of George Floyd, a group of RHS alumni came together, formed RARE and embarked on a journey to address dramatic racial inequities, specifically in our educational systems. Today our journey continues. We realize we can’t fix everything. We strive to make a difference by addressing both the problems and their root causes and prioritize connecting with communities and individuals to better understand their needs.

Thank you for all you have done to support RARE in the past and we hope you will continue to partner with us as we journey forward. We are proud of our growth and accomplishments in 2023 and are even more excited about the future!

Support RARE
● If you’re inclined to volunteer with RARE, please see our volunteer opportunity page or let us know what you’re interested in via our contact us page.
Donations can be easily made (and often matched by employers), through our donate page

Meanwhile, please take a moment to reflect on and be proud of your connection to RARE. We view you as partners, and always welcome your suggestions through our contact us page.

Media Outreach
The making of the documentary “Roosevelt High School: Beyond Black and White” has proven to be one of RARE’s major accomplishments. Since the film’s original release in January 2022, it has been shown at more than 15 schools, 10 organizations and to more than 3,000 individuals. It aired five times on PBS and was selected for the Seattle Social Justice Film Festival in October!

Going forward RARE plans to:
● Introduce the Teachers’ Guides and Curriculum Guides to educators/parents after showing the documentary.
● Continue to show the documentary in as many schools, PTSA groups and community organizations as possible. We will work even more closely with these schools and organizations, encouraging them about strategies to implement grassroots racial equity programs in their communities.

Scholarship and Awards
In 2024, RARE will award its seventh and eighth $5K James A. Davis Jr. Scholarship, awarding $40K in three and half years. Thanks for your support of this program for RHS students of color. RARE will also present the inaugural Forrest Ward Racial Equity Award in 2024.

RARE’s active connection with the Breakfast Group continues to grow, launching a pilot Career Connection Learning Program (CCLP) at RHS, with plans for broader implementation. The program’s goal is to introduce students to diverse types of careers and to give them an opportunity to meet and talk with individuals in the field. Long term, we hope to expand the CCLP to include visits to corporations, and to offer internships.

RARE collaborates with the “Club Alpha” Mentorship Program. Half a dozen Seattle schools currently participate in this program. It will be expanding to Roosevelt and Nathan Hale in 2024.

Open Discussions
Open Discussions (OD) is one of RARE’s hallmark programs. After a hiatus in 2022, we are back on track. Join us for moderated, lively discussions related to understanding racial equity issues. In 2023, RARE conducted several inspiring and informative discussions.
● “The State of Racial Equity in Seattle Public Schools”
● “Mixed Race Students and Adults – Their Paths Traveled”
● More topics here

The purpose of the Connections program is to create student leaders who share a vision of inclusion and work together towards a welcoming and positive school culture, where all students feel that they belong, are appreciated for who they are, and have equal access to educational resources. The program consists of workshops, meetups, and adventurous activities — inclusive experiences where students learn and practice valuable new skills that help remove “barriers to belonging” for their classmates.

RARE and Urban League, one of the most respected civil rights organizations in the country, have collaborated on three pilots in the past two years. What have we learned? First, students told us that they are better able to understand and participate in their school community. Second, students said they want more!

We are exploring how to best expand Connections in 2024. Our initial focus is on Roosevelt and Garfield High Schools, in order to lay the groundwork for scaling to additional schools and
communities. We are reviewing research data, evaluating objectives and outcomes, and meeting with principals, staff, parents, and students. Please stay tuned for updates. And contact us if you want to help or have ideas!

Restorative Practice
Restorative Practice (RP) is one of the biggest single endeavors of the Seattle Public Schools District (SPSD). Restorative Practice empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own and in small groups, and it’s a growing practice at schools around the country. RP has the potential of changing the climate and culture in Seattle schools. It works toward people respecting themselves and others regardless of their differences. Read more about Seattle Public Schools’ Restorative Practice goals here.

RARE’s Restorative Practice Committee works with the Restorative Practice Community Coalition (RPCC), to support SPSD’s implementation of Restorative Practice. RPCC networks people and organizations in the community to help schools begin their process towards RP.

Currently two elementary schools and four high schools, including RHS, have made progress adopting RP. In 2024 RARE will continue to collaborate with RHS PTSA and administration to support RP education at the community level, laying the foundation for the implementation of RP school-wide. It is a journey!

RARE Organization
For RARE to model “racial equity”, it must continue to integrate equitable considerations into its policies, processes, procedures, practices, and decision-making model. Two important organizational changes RARE will make in 2024 are the additions of the Student
Engagement Council (SEC) and the RARE Advisory Board (RAB)
● The SEC will provide RARE with student input on current and future programs. Their perspective is important as we work to make sure RARE has a clear understanding of the challenges they face.
● Establishment of the RAB will bring prominent community professionals to RARE, offering the Board fresh insights and ideas to solve problems and explore new opportunities. These individuals will be key in assisting RARE to develop and implement its long-term strategic goals.

One of the challenges RARE faced since its inception is the establishment of an effective social media program. We are now well on our way to accomplishing our goal. This will greatly increase RARE’s visibility and ability to communicate with our supporters.

Strategic Plans
Going forward, RARE seeks to collaborate more with other organizations who are in alignment with RARE’s mission. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when there is already a good model in place. RARE will participate in TAF’s Network for EdWork Convening conference on February 23rd & 24th.

We are also looking to identify synergies between RARE’s own programs to improve their efficiency and effectiveness (i.e., connecting the Restorative Practice committee with Media Outreach committee for follow-up to screening of the documentary).

On behalf of all of RARE’s Board & Committee members, thank you for your support of RARE and its journey. We hope you have a safe and happy end to 2023, and a wonderful year in 2024!

Joe Hunter, Jr.                                       Michelle Y. Hightower
RARE Chair                                                    RARE Vice Chair