Reading Inspirational Stories to Empower (RISE)
This blog is a joint-effort from Front Porch Alliance & Rosedale Development Association.
Front Porch Alliance is a Member with Nonprofit Connect. Their mission is to work together with residents of Kansas City, Missouri’s eastside and urban core to meet their changing needs at home and in school. Learn more about their services here.
Rosedale Development Association is a Member with Nonprofit Connect. Their mission is to work with residents, businesses, and institutions to develop a thriving Rosedale community. Learn more about their services here.
Reading Inspirational Stories to Empower (RISE) honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on both sides of State Line Road. Collaboration between Rosedale Development Association (RDA) and Front Porch Alliance (FPA) engages students and volunteers in more than 20 classrooms in discussions about and actions towards social change.
In Rosedale, the goal is to have youth in elementary and middle school become change agents. We focus on making sure the youth know their voice can be heard by giving them the opportunity to write to an elected official about a concern or change in their community. We focus on the inspirational acts of individuals from the past and the present and the importance of speaking up for what you believe is right, even if it is an unpopular opinion. Over 500 students in Rosedale were inspired by books like A Sweet Smell of Roses, and Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation and the Case of Roberto Alvarez. K-5 students were left with the question, what would they like to see changed in their community?
When our volunteers go into the classroom we want them to start a conversation between the students on what it means to be a “change agent”. Many students answered:
- Advocate for change in our community
- Helping to make things happen
- Standing for equal rights
We follow up by making sure that all students know and understand that change will not happen overnight but to keep standing up for what they believe in. They are helping to facilitate conversations with their elected officials, schools, and community.
Merging education and advocacy on Kansas City’s Eastside.
“Dear Mayor Lucas and Councilmemer Parks-Shaw,” read over 130 letters and drawings from RISE 2022 participants. Inspired by books like The Youngest Marcher and Wangari’s Tree of Peace, K-6 students at Troost and Banneker elementary schools asked local leaders to help solve issues from stray dogs to police violence to more accessible community resources.
When Mayor Lucas and Councilmember Parks-Shaw visited Troost and Banneker in March, student representatives led them around the school and in robust conversation. Again and again, students asked: How can we get involved in local government? How can we make change happen?
They received this advice:
- Read the news and stay informed.
- Talk to your parents about issues you see and potential solutions.
- Encourage your parents to vote and attend town halls and council meetings.
- Keep writing letters to local officials so YOUR voice can be heard.
“The follow up meetings we were able to facilitate with KCPS schools and our elected officials are a solid start in our efforts to combine education and advocacy in our youth programming,” said Hanna Hochstetler, Youth Programs Coordinator at FPA. “As our youth gain knowledge and confidence, they should have a platform to speak out about and act on the changes they want to see in our community.”
RISE will happen Jan. 16-20, 2023. Interested volunteers can use the below links to join the movement. Together we RISE.
Volunteer for RISE 2023 with Rosedale Development Association - Kansas City, Kansas
Volunteer for RISE 2023 with Front Porch Alliance - Kansas City, Missouri
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