Sunday, August 28, 2016

Learn about Folks (FOCs)

I recently interviewed the head of a great group, FOCs, (Families of Color), which is kind of a PEPS for those families.  Amy Pak is the Founder and Executive Director of FOCs.

This is their mission statement:
Families of Color Seattle (FOCS) is dedicated to exploring racism, and engaging in anti-racist work in ways that are accessible to all people and ages. Families of Color Seattle is a safe space for families of color. Anti-racist work is often approached academically – FOCS incorporates art, play, music, food, and community building in their programming, parent groups and community dialogue series to engage parents, educators, and the broader community in anti-racist work.
They offer parenting groups, arts classes and a bilingual pre-school.  

I interviewed Ms. Pak earlier this summer about her work and FOCs.

Pak said that she and other families had felt there was a gap for families who are multi-racial and/or bilingual and that she founded FOCs to fill that gap.  From its start about five years ago, they have grown to about 1,000 families who interact via different list servs; from Facebook, they have about 450 families.

Their funding comes from a variety of grants from the Department of Neighborhoods to the King county levy  and United Way. Currently, they are piloting programs with YWCA. They also provide training to women to run their groups. 

She said the challenges for multi-racial families are great.  It's things like a mom being mistaken for the nanny of her children.  She also said there was the struggle for families to "connect" to American culture and "fold into whiteness and be acceptable" while they also worry about their children losing their language and cultural identity.

Pak says the the largest questions that her group is trying to approach in a loving way is "how do we support children of color with compassion and build community, with confident parents."  She said the gentrification of some neighborhoods was changing who lives where. 

She also mentioned the fears for parents of children of color about violence especially from police.  She, like many others, wonders about the need to build a larger youth jail instead of finding ways to reach youth to head off problems. 

She said that as far as education, most of these parents are fully aware that education is the key factor to helping their child to a better future.  She said that all parents struggle about the best solution for their child.

She mentioned something that resonated with me that there is a need for more leadership from parents of color with strong stories to tell about education.  I suggested that FOC might be a good group for SPS to partner with around Highly Capable learners. 

Naturally, like every non-profit, it's how to get the funding to do this kind of work and outreach. 

I really hope SPS considers partnering with this group as perhaps a place to start - early - for outreach with families of color. 

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