“The Practice Space empowered us to make our own choices in how we communicate. They taught us skills that we can use in the classroom in middle school, high school, and college, even into our professional careers, to advocate for ourselves and express our opinions to others. Our experiences with The Practice Space have made us more confident, competent speakers.”"

Junior Board of Directors, The Practice Space, youth ages 15-25

Letter from the Executive Director


Our Mission

Our mission is to build confidence and community through communication skill development to advance inclusion, develop empathy, and elevate underrepresented voices.

Dear Friends,

When I think about 2021, I feel proud of how nimble and adaptable we have been as an organization, especially in times of continued uncertainty and the changing reality of the pandemic. For The Practice Space, this past year was marked by a sense of transition and an improved capacity to take on an exciting future. In many ways, 2021 was an "in between world", with online and in-person programs, new and experienced team members, familiar projects and brand-new ventures. In a world that longed to go "back to normal", we were able to prepare for our next stage as an organization, honoring our roots while not dwelling on the past.

Personally, my fire and drive has always come from our relationships with participants, supporters, partners, and the team. They make our organization powerful. In June 2021, we started our first Junior Board of Directors, made up of past youth participants ages 15 to 25, who have already played an essential role in strengthening our programs. As we finished writing the manuscript for our book on Expression-Driven Teaching this past year, we had the pleasure of interviewing participants, reviewing their original story and poem submissions, and reading the foreword authored by the Junior Board. Each personal account pointed to the incredible impact we have had on elevating underrepresented voices, helping people believe that their voice matters and enjoy what is possible. As one of our teen participants puts it, "I have grown so much when it comes to speaking up for myself and others. Now it’s all I want to do."

Throughout the year, we also continued to build relationships with new partners, who enable us to connect our work around personal growth to larger change efforts, including expanding our school-based work, joining the Alliance for Girls, and partnering with women-led sports apparel company, Title Nine Sports. The second year of our educator cohort continued to deepen our impact on teacher practice, while also teaching us so much about the resilience and strength required by teachers in the current educational context. By the end of 2021, we were fortunate to add four more team members focused on marketing, development, operations, and content, as well as three new Board members to our now majority-women Board.

We have accomplished so much since 2017, and I am excited about the incredible growth that is now possible. We have adopted a new three-year strategic plan and as I write this, we are getting ready to move our office space to downtown Richmond and preparing for our in-person 5-year anniversary celebration. I cannot wait for what comes next and am grateful to all of you for making this possible.



AnnMarie Baines, PhD
Executive Director

2021 At-A-Glance


students served since our founding

Greater than


of our youth and adult participants say they improved their confidence and communication skills


16 Community Partners Served

the majority in Richmond



educators reached across partner and core programs


Working with The Practice Space helped…

Our school and community partners:

  • Improve storytelling and presentation skills
  • Learn to facilitate inclusive conversations and learning experiences
  • Tell stories about sensitive issues such as experiences with gender-based violence and incarceration
  • Refine their missions and strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Build confidence with interviewing, listening, and self-advocacy
  • Apply techniques for our method, Expression-Driven Teaching

Our youth and adult individuals:

  • Win debate competitions at the local, state, and national level
  • Lead community action and service projects
  • Participate more in class
  • Record podcasts and YouTube channels
  • Write and perform poetry
  • Start their own school clubs

Our educators:

  • Increase student participation during distance learning
  • Facilitate strong student engagement
  • Create inclusive experiences for English Language Learners and students with special needs

“Being able to perform my work and express how I feel made me feel great. Also, seeing other students that look like me was the best part of my experience. I loved to see young black women such as myself perform our poems. In a way, it encouraged me even more.”"

-Teen participant


In 2021...

...we continued our online programming and returned in person in 5 schools. We defined our method of Expression-Driven Teaching, increased our work with educators, and sharpened our focus on elevating underrepresented voices through work with community partners. As we grew our capacity as a team, we brought on more coaches, held our first Annual Appeal, and piloted new programs while continuing to refine our core services.



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    We qualified students to State and National Championships in Speech & Debate, including our youngest ever 15-year old qualifier.

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    We promoted accessibility by piloting new offerings in Spanish, including storytelling and self-advocacy workshops and a new Spanish-speaking debate team.

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    We supported leadership through our 3rd cohort of our Expressive Leader program, with 18 youth leaders (across and outside California) conducting service projects focused on discrimination, ableism, and media representation for people of color.

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    We deepened our commitment to women, girls, and gender expansive youth by partnering with Title Nine Sports and becoming a member of Alliance for Girls.

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    We created safe spaces for community partners to share their experiences in Richmond, insights about reentering society after incarceration, and stories about surviving violence against women.

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    We supported educators in methods for facilitating safe and brave spaces for youth expression through our 2nd Youth Advocates cohort and school and district workshops.


Team Achievements

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    We were one of the winners of Title Nine’s Nonprofit Pitchfest!

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    We finished our book manuscript and received a contract with nationwide education publisher, ASCD.

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    We hired an Operations Manager, Development Director, Marketing Coordinator, and a Project Coordinator from the Americorps VISTA program.

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    We had our largest year of youth coaches, with 17 past participants returning to coach and mentor younger participants.

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    We launched our first 10-member Junior Board of Directors and added three new members to our full Board.

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    Our Executive Director was nominated for an LA Times Inspirational Woman Award and our Program Director published her first book of poetry.

Margot Aishiteru<br>Operations Manager
Margot Aishiteru
Operations Manager
Caroline Clarke<br>Development Director
Caroline Clarke
Development Director
Maddy Shenfield <br>Marketing Coordinator
Maddy Shenfield
Marketing Coordinator
Jim Bruce<br>Americorps/VISTA Project Coordinator
Jim Bruce
Americorps/VISTA Project Coordinator
Elaine Lin-Hering<br>New Board Member
Elaine Lin-Hering
New Board Member
Lorna Contreras-Townsend<br>New Board Member
Lorna Contreras-Townsend
New Board Member
Johnny Lin<br>New Board Member
Johnny Lin
New Board Member

Inaugural Junior Board of Directors:

Mariana Castro
Amber Crenna-Armstrong
Will Flowers
Mistura Bankole
Mercy Niyi-Awolesi

Michael Schoonover
Mela Seyoum
Lindsey Lam
Gloria Zearett
Elohiym Mudaavanha

“I was getting compliments from the librarian and the reading teacher that my students seem a lot more engaged and they seem like they're more interested in substantial books. They want to read chapter books and they're more engaged in discussions after we started to do some of the activities I learned from The Practice Space.”


A Note from our Development Director

Caroline Clarke<br>Development Director

I feel honored to have joined The Practice Space at such an exciting time. We are most definitely in a growth phase both organizationally and programmatically. I joined in the fall of 2021 along with three other staff members under the thoughtful leadership of our Executive Director, AnnMarie Baines. I came to know of The Practice Space when my son took part in one of the online summer camps, and can attest to the high quality and inclusive nature of the programming. I am especially proud of our work increasing access to public speaking in our local schools. This is so important and makes such a difference in and outside of the classroom.

We are now focused on raising funds to further expand our team and program offerings. We had our first annual fund campaign, which generated over $25,000 from individual donors and included an online showcase featuring many of our wonderful students. Support from foundations increased and we had generous grants from Hewlett Foundation, Quest Foundation, Chamberlin Foundation and the Society of Community work. A big thanks to all our supporters, who make this important work possible.

 We are very appreciative of your invaluable support of The Practice Space. We are happy you are on this journey with us and look forward to the year ahead.

With best wishes,
Caroline Clarke



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    Staffing & Services


Being a Latina is tough.

Especially when there are people around you, who don’t want you here because you look a little bit different. One thing that really helped boost my confidence was joining The Practice Space. I was nervous about joining at first because I didn’t think my ideas on how to make the world a better place were valid.

But The Practice Space really changed my life.

—Eva, Age 16


©2022 The Practice Space
317 11th Street, Richmond, CA 94801
www.practice-space.org • admin@practice-space.org

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