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‘RISE’-ing up to make change:

New grantee, RISE Colorado, has been working tirelessly to change the culture of parent engagement in Aurora public schools, proving themselves more than capable to RISE to the challenge present in our community!

Co-Founders & Co-CEOs Veronica Palmer, Tangia Al-awaji Estrada, and Milagros Barsallo

In May 2012, three women came together around the idea to start RISE Colorado to educate, engage, and empower low-income families and families of color to end educational inequity in our public school system. Chinook Fund is proud to provide start up funding to this amazing group and showcase their work.

As three women of color whose trajectories have been drastically altered due to decisions our families made regarding our educational opportunities, starting RISE not only means addressing a gap in family engagement, it is deeply personal and feels like our duty to the future of our communities. In this process, we’ve continuously heard that it is so necessary for people of color to become leaders in this work. The biggest challenge we’ve faced has been having to push many people to remember that our being women of color not only means we look different from many other leaders in this work, but it also means that we bring different ideas about how progress can be made to strengthen our communities. This challenge, however comes with the opportunity to stretch the thinking of many in the school system, as well as our own. ¬†Starting RISE has also brought the struggles that come with being unemployed, the challenges of contracting, carefully calculating when to write rent checks so they wouldn’t bounce, having no health insurance, moving a family half way across the country, moving back in with our parents, and facing the uncertainty of what the next few months will hold for each of us and for RISE Colorado.

While our struggles in starting RISE are by no means over, we have come a long way. We are proud that many who initially met our new ideas with skepticism or concern are now some of our biggest supporters and thought partners helping us address the challenges of being young women of color doing this work. In just 4 months on the ground, we are working in 8 Aurora communities, and have reached nearly 200 families. The struggles we face pale in comparison to those our students and communities face daily, and that future generations will continue to face if our public schools do not improve. Just as many leaders of color paved the way for us to start RISE, we must pave the way for our students and their families to be the change agents who will transform education. We are honored to be struggling along with our communities, and are committed to doing so until our students and families are leading this movement.

twitter: @RISEColorado
instagram: @rise_colorado

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