Letter from the Executive Director
Our mission is to build confidence and community through communication skill development to advance inclusion, develop empathy, and elevate underrepresented voices.
This time last year, none of us could have imagined how the next year would progress, that we would be confined to our homes, unable to see friends and family, and faced with one tragedy and outrage after another in the fight for racial justice. In the face of the stress and uncertainty, I am incredibly proud of how much we at The Practice Space learned, grew, and improved. Instead of hiding from this new reality, we challenged ourselves to do things differently. And while I am proud of what we've accomplished, there is so much more work to be done, especially when it comes to contributing to a more just and equitable world.
We served more students in 2020 than we served in our first three years combined, and we ended the year serving our 1000th student! While the pandemic took away our ability to convene physically, we were instead able to expand our reach and improve access to participants and families who needed it most. Our summer camps went from serving 40 students across 4 summer camps to serving 40 students online in a single camp. In addition to retaining our students in West Contra Costa, we had students attend our programs from all over the country, from Colorado and New York, all the way to Kuwait. Since transportation was no longer an issue, we saw our students more regularly, which also led to increased growth and skill improvement. The online format also helped us reach families and organizations who needed our services the most, from the formerly incarcerated to first generation college students to people unemployed due to the pandemic. We increased our digital footprint, producing clear and inspirational written and video content to help people cope with their new reality, in addition to six public speaking curriculum guides to help with storytelling, self-advocacy, debate, and presentation. And we ended the year with the best gift of all: a team of six women and a new senior hire.
As we figure out what to do next, I continue to reflect on the world we envision, one in which diverse communities of youth and adults feel capable, cared for, and free. Every day, our students remind us that the world is not this way, but that The Practice Space helps them feel like they belong and that their voice is important. As two of our staff members put it best, "When we are made to feel powerless as children, it sticks with us for a lifetime. But when a child is empowered to use their voice, they are able to express who they are and have the courage to speak up when the moment calls." We remain dedicated to creating a world where this is possible for every person, especially if their voice has been underrepresented.
AnnMarie Baines, PhD
students served since our founding
of our adults and youth report that our programs are effective
expanded online to include SF Bay Area, San Diego, Downey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Kuwait
of our online Debate Club students say they improved their communication skills
Working with The Practice Space helped…
our adult students:
- Secure jobs
- Win small business pitch competitions
- Advocate in front of the school board
- Be elected to public office
our youth students:
- Participate more in class
- Start community action projects
- Speak at protests
- Launch podcasts
- Facilitate student-run political candidate debates
- Win debate competitions at the local, state, and national level
- Start their own debate teams and public speaking clubs
"I feel like when I first started I was very shy and didn't know how to express myself and it was hard to talk to other people but now I don't feel that way!"
-High School Debate Student
...we adapted to all online programming, reached new audiences (while retaining existing students), and served more students than all other years combined.
We held our largest camps, biggest events, largest one-time fundraiser, and expanded our content and programs.
Our camp enrollment doubled and the online programs enabled us to offer more adult programs.
We launched "mini-courses" and held 23 total courses on podcasting, spontaneous speaking, debate, acting, self-advocacy, and presentation.
We held 12 online events, including a performance series, multiple showcases, and online speech and debate tournaments.
We continued our Expressive Leader program, expanding to 18 youth leaders who began community action projects with the help of their mentors.
We delivered 18 workshops to 11 different organizations (8 new organizations).
We launched a new "Youth Voice Advocates" cohort for local educators and officially partnered with 2 new school districts.
We worked with 5 school-based debate teams, attending monthly online tournaments.
We finished our six curriculum guides and added 104 free public speaking resources to our website, including storytelling, presentation, self-advocacy, debate, coaching, and confidence-building.
We expanded our digital content, including a video series, new playlists, improved social media content, and a revised website.
We expanded to an all-women team of six, including a new senior hire.
We partnered with Richmond Promise to sponsor a Summer Associate and a Project Manager from the Americorps VISTA program.
A Note from our Board President
In times of crisis, such as a global pandemic, all we can do is try to survive. It is remarkable then, that The Practice Space has not only survived the strain and uncertainty of the past year but emerged stronger than ever and continues to grow.
There are many achievements I am proud of this year, but perhaps none more than continuing to build the leadership team at The Practice Space with the hire of our first ever Program Director, Diana Medina. This key hire allows us to continue to grow and develop additional programming, including Spanish language programs, to further serve our diverse community. We have also continued to build out our Board of Directors with the addition of Lambie Lanman.
We could not accomplish our mission without the support of the Hewlett Foundation, City of Richmond ECIA, Society for Community Work, and Chamberlin Community Giving Initiative, as well as our wonderful volunteers, coaching staff, creative design and development consultants, and individual donors.
Thank you for your continued support,
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©2021 The Practice Space
10261 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530
www.practice-space.org • firstname.lastname@example.org