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.
As I reflect on the past year, I am grateful for the increased support we have received from the communities we serve, both near and far. We started the year with the launch of our strategic plan and immediately got to work to make those bold ideas into reality. We moved to downtown Richmond, applied (and won) grants to build our capacity to measure impact, hired a Deputy Director, and grew our majority-women Board. We pursued financial sustainability with an increased donor base and diversifying our funding sources. We took bigger risks with our largest partnerships to date, including a major expansion into WCCUSD elementary schools and serving Kaiser Permanente’s equity program, Elevate. We intend to be around for a long time, and the past year truly helped build the foundation.
The roll out of our elementary school speech and debate clubs represent our commitment to helping our youngest speakers have positive memories about public speaking. In 2022, we served over 100 young speakers, who learned basic debate, three-point speeches, and acting. We ended 2022 with a huge crowd in our new office, filled with families and community members, all there to witness and celebrate young voices. I remember looking around that crowded room and thinking to myself, “This event truly represents the West Contra Costa community.” Throughout the year, young speakers were mentored by paid high school students who not only had their own success in tournaments, but learned how to coach and give back to their community. We aim to be in every elementary school in West Contra Costa, and would love to expand in the SF Bay Area.
This past year was also our most successful year of partnerships! We served 18 different organizations, helping people give powerful presentations, speak on the spot, give keynotes, and feel confident communicating in the workplace. We supported the program staff of youth-serving organizations with inclusive facilitation skills, provided guidance on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and led retreats. We launched a Spanish-speaking debate club and a speech club for newcomers and sustained our competitive high school speech and debate teams. It was an honor to work alongside equity-driven organizations: Partnerships broaden our reach and advance equity work that we would never be able to accomplish alone.
We are grateful to have this work recognized, including winning the Title Nine Nonprofit Pitchfest and receiving a “Best of El Cerrito Award'' from the Chamber of Commerce for “Best Educational Resource”. These awards represent how we have made deeper inroads into our surrounding community, which will prepare us for future Bay Area growth. As I write this, our team is preparing to go on the road, sharing our newly launched book, Amplify Student Voices, with educators and audiences that care about oral expression. It is so nice to connect with people in person again and we are excited to continue sharing what is possible when people feel capable, cared for, and free. Thank you for joining us on this adventure!
AnnMarie Baines, PhD
students served since our founding
of our youth and adult participants say they improved their confidence and communication skills
18 Community Partners Served
new young speakers reached in our new elementary program
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
What We Did in 2022
“The Practice Space was an engaging and informative group that made me feel much more at ease with myself given that I am extremely anxious about public speaking. The tips and feedback I received as well as listening to feedback given to others was extremely important and intentional. Their teachings made me more thoughtful on what I would like to present and really helped me find my authentic self.”
- Adult participant, Kaiser Permanente
Elementary and Middle School: We expanded our young speaker programs, serving over 100 students in person at WCCUSD and Loma Vista in Vallejo, continuing to provide online programs, and gathering families together for a practice performance.
High School: We qualified students to State and National Championships in Speech & Debate, serving a total of 4 high school teams (including a Spanish language speech and debate club). We also supported leadership through our first youth-designed self-advocacy club, where youth spoke about themes such as Asian hate, racism, climate change, and fear.
Partnerships: We served 18 partner organizations through workshops, retreat facilitation, and executive coaching, including many Richmond organizations as well as Title Nine Sports and Kaiser Permanente. We also collaborated with local organizations to provide summer programming for underserved youth, including the Ed Fund and Freedom Schools.
Online Programs: We coached bilingual online courses for adults focused on pitches and public comment and continued to provide private lessons for professionals around the country.
Leadership and Accolades: We grew as a thought leader with national relevance by publishing our book, Amplify Student Voices, that communicates our method of Expression-Driven Teaching for speakers and facilitators. We were voted Best Educational Resources 2022 by the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce and won first place at Title Nine’s Nonprofit Pitchfest.
New Office and New Team: We moved our office to downtown Richmond to be closer to the community we serve. We also hired Maribel Lopez as Deputy Director and Isolde Honore as Operations Manager, in addition to adding four new board members.
New Projects: We launched an equity-based evaluation initiative to capture our impact and support the continuous improvement of our programs to advance equity. We also launched a campaign to support oral literacy for multilingual learners through a high school project-based curriculum on speech and debate.
More Coaches: Our partnerships with CORO and Richmond Promise connected us with 8 summer youth interns and we worked with 25 coaches to serve our in-person and online programs.
Cohort 2 of Junior Board of Directors:
Mistura Bankole (co-chair)
Amber Crenna-Armstrong (co-chair)
We would also like to thank our outgoing Board members for their years of service:
A Note from our Development Director
The hallmark of 2022 has been programmatic and organizational growth. We are delighted that so many more opportunities have opened up for us. We have been very busy expanding our youth programs and partnerships as well as applying for new government and foundation grants.
My son is part of the El Cerrito High School Speech team and he is enjoying the weekly coaching sessions with our Executive Director, AnnMarie Baines, and having fun at the weekend tournaments. His confidence has grown both in and out of school and he is much more willing to take on leadership opportunities. I wish for other youth to have this experience and consequently I am very enthusiastic about our Speech & Debate program offerings from Elementary through to High School.
Looking ahead, our priorities include securing funding for our middle and high school work and our English Language Curriculum project. Our second annual fund campaign was successful and we reached our target of $20,000 from individual donors. Our work is made possible by our wonderful funders including the Hewlett Foundation, McMicking Foundation, Quest Foundation, the Society of Community Work, Chamberlain Foundation, Title Nine and the City of Richmond. We also thank our Board of Directors for their help and support with our fundraising efforts.
Thank you to our supporters big and small, your contributions and belief in our work is so important to all of us at The Practice Space.
With best wishes,
Staffing & Services
Fees & Licenses
“I have learned to pay more attention to the small details a person shares when speaking so I am able to discuss what is being talked about. I have also learned to train my mind to think more quickly without having to wonder what is being discussed, share my ideas, and be more clear in my language. These skills will help me help others. If someone is speaking to me and I am listening they will know that I care about what they have to say. They can better express themselves and even be able to open their heart to me.”
—Abelardo, Age 15
©2023 The Practice Space
317 11th Street, Richmond, CA 94801
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