“Talking to other people can be very hard and not everyone gets the opportunity in their life. I’m glad I got into this program because it helps me be less socially awkward.” ”

6th Grader

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,

2023 marked a true turning point in our growth. We kicked off the year with the release of our book, Amplify Student Voices, which introduces our method of Expression-Driven Teaching to guide K-12 teachers to advance equity and engagement. Our book represents our realization that our mission isn’t only relevant to people in the SF Bay Area, but nationwide. This became evident as we traveled to conferences across the country and Canada, where I gave my first TEDx talk. One teen said, “I really liked your story and the way you talked about breaking templates. I feel like an imposter and listening to you made me see I am not alone and I have confidence to be myself.” We heard the same sentiments from teachers, who appreciated our work to create equitable environments for students to be themselves.

We see our success reflected in what our students do once they have the encouragement, guidance, and community to practice their voice. In 2023, we secured our largest district contracts, which allowed us to reach students and teachers in 20 schools. Our students performed to hundreds of people, sharing their cultural heritage, speaking their native languages, and winning speech and debate awards. Our longest-running high school program in West Contra Costa qualified for the Tournament of Champions. Our youngest students shared speeches on bullying, climate change, and mental health in our end-of-year event.

We talk a lot about our youth and education work, but half of our work was with adult professionals. We helped nonprofit staff in multiple organizations learn to pitch their work to funders and tell stories and give presentations. We expanded our work with Kaiser Permanente, serving 100 staff in their leadership and equity program. We worked with individuals to pitch new businesses, deliver keynotes and strategic plans, deal with public speaking anxiety, and speak confidently on camera. In total, we served more than double the number of students in one year.

As I write this, we are looking ahead to how we will grow to serve people nationwide. We are building this work on solid ground, rather than chasing growth for growth’s sake. I am proud that while we are expanding quickly, we have never sacrificed the quality of what we offer our students. When I think back over 2023, I feel immense gratitude for our hard-working team of staff, Junior Board, and Board. We learned together as we built internal systems and worked with experts to help us with our data collection, Salesforce, marketing, and bookkeeping. It takes a lot to grow a nonprofit, but it has been beautiful to gain outside recognition to build credibility around our work. Standing on the stage of the National Speech & Debate Championships to accept our Activating Equity Award with my mom and husband in the audience was a moment that made both my high school and present self proud.

Thank you for caring for us and our work – I can’t wait to do more alongside all of you.



AnnMarie Baines, PhD
Executive Director

2023 At-A-Glance


students served since our founding


63% youth & 37% adults


people ages 5 through adulthood served in 2023 alone!


Youth served in 20 schools

  • multiracial


  • portAsset 8facilities


  • portAsset 6grants


  • portAsset 5earned


  • dk-teal-legend


  • biz-expenses


  • Adult professionals highlighted...

    getting coach feedback that was honest, specific and actionable, listening to their peers with group feedback, learning delivery tips and how to structure their content to have the intended impact.

  • Youth participants liked...

     the final products, community, content, and fun activities.

  • Both youth and adults emphasized...

    the kindness and support received from coaches.

How We Help

District Leaders and Educators Say:

  • "Who is speaking and who is silent in classrooms? Public speaking provides an inclusive space to build equity and joy for all students, particularly those who are underheard. The Practice Space is uniquely equipped to help students at any school thrive and achieve." - District Administrator
  • "I'm so pleased with the work that you did with my class. Not only was it fun. Not only does it celebrate Hispanic heritage, but it was a really great deep literacy activity. We had solid practice developing the literacy skills in addition to public speaking. Their reading, their fluency, their confidence, it's all built up.”
    - 3rd grade teacher

Students and Coaches Report:

  • Students improved their public speaking skills, improved confidence, and felt safe and supported by their coaches.
  • Coaches, staff, and instructors reported an increase in student engagement and ownership.
  • Students built strong relationships and learned to listen as part of a team, gained comfort with storytelling, acting, and presentation, and presented advocacy speeches and debates for a public audience.
  • Students said, “I liked how supported I felt throughout the entire program because it made me feel braver.”
  • Students strengthened their oral literacy, social and emotional learning, academic language, and leadership, and felt pride and accomplishment.
  • Students felt like they could be themselves and enjoyed bonding with friends.

“This program helped me tremendously in school, with group projects and classroom debates. I make compelling presentations and stand out in my classes. I can summarize my arguments clearly and respond convincingly to contentions made by other students."

—Teen participant


What We Did in 2023

“I feel so lucky and grateful that I got to work with the folks at Practice Space. Their approach to public speaking is compassion forward with a foundation of experience and skill. My presentation is 100x better than where I was on my own. I am amazed at how much progress I make during each session. I am more clear on what I am saying, I am able to speak from my heart, and my audience is more connected and engaged.”

- Adult professional


Program Achievements

  • list-arrow-ico

    K-12 Programs: We expanded our young speaker programs to 20 schools in WCCUSD and Vallejo. We served 615 youth this year, including 7 programs in 6 high schools (with 2 Spanish language programs). El Cerrito High received a 2nd place regional sweepstakes award for teamwide achievement in speech and debate. Teen leaders helped run our tournaments, facilitate team-building, mentor novices, and take on paid jobs to coach elementary students. Surveys on self-confidence and belonging have been unanimously positive.

  • list-arrow-ico

    K-12 Coaches: We onboarded 20 new lead and assistant coaches to serve our programs with in-depth training in teaching and facilitation. Our coaches helped prepare students for our community events, showcases, and weekend scrimmages.

  • list-arrow-ico

    Adult Professionals: We collaborated with local organizations to provide summer programs. We provided in-depth workshop series to local organizations like Pogo Park and served 100 people at Kaiser Permanente. We delivered professional development to teachers in West Contra Costa and San Leandro as a school-board approved partner in both districts.


Team Achievements

  • list-arrow-ico

    Leadership and Accolades: We gave talks at conferences such as TEDx, Deeper Learning, ASCD, and BOOST, which allowed us to share more about our 2023 book, Amplify Student Voices. We won a national “Activating Equity” award from the National Speech & Debate Association and were featured in their Rostrum Magazine. Our Executive Director was honored with the 2023 Distinguished Graduate Award from University of Washington for her work with The Practice Space.

  • list-arrow-ico

    New Systems and a Growing Team: We worked with consultants through capacity-building grants to develop data collection systems, set up a Salesforce system, strengthen our financial and legal systems, and plan for growth. We hired three new full-time staff members and a new Board member.

  • list-arrow-ico

    New Projects: We are honored to receive an investment from New Schools Venture Fund to deepen our work to support Long-Term English Learners through curriculum and professional development for teachers. In addition to launching new initiatives, we also renewed grants to continue growing our existing programs.

Moneek Bhanot <br>Director of Secondary Programs
Moneek Bhanot
Director of Secondary Programs
Cynthia Pinto<br>
Program Manager
Cynthia Pinto
Program Manager
Ryan Miller<br>Project Coordinator, Americorps/VISTA
Ryan Miller
Project Coordinator, Americorps/VISTA
Dr. Carey Hawkins Ash<br>New Board Member
Dr. Carey Hawkins Ash
New Board Member

Cohort 3 of Junior Board of Directors:

Mistura Bankole (co-chair)
Amber Crenna-Armstrong (co-chair)
Max Ibarra
DeAndre Lendsey
Sofia Lopez

Max Mankita
Mercy Niyi-Awolesi
Rena Shrestha
Lucia Saridis
Bethany Zhao


Thank you to Jim Bruce, who finished his two-year term with Americorps/VISTA

A Note from our Development Director


2023 was a year of exceptional growth at The Practice Space. We are now a $1m-plus non-profit organization! We exceeded our income target by almost 40%, thanks to several large grants, partnerships and donations. This allowed us to grow our youth programs, add important staff positions, increase our physical space, and expand our geographic reach. We are very excited by all these developments and ready for the next phase of growth.

My son is now a senior and this is his last year as part of the El Cerrito High School Speech team, coached by none other than our Executive Director, AnnMarie Baines. I cannot emphasize enough how impactful this experience has been for him. He even wrote about it in his college application essay. He stated how being on the Speech team was the catalyst for expressing himself more confidently in the classroom - whether it was taking part in a debate in history class, delivering a short speech in his Spanish class, or presenting his ideas in front of his peers. These skills are life long and we are so grateful he had this opportunity in high school. We hope many other young people can benefit from these programs.

As we continue to expand, we will focus on rolling out our successful afterschool speech and debate programs at elementary, middle and high schools to other areas of Northern California. We will also be providing many opportunities for youth to engage in tournaments, scrimmages and showcase performances. This leads to so much personal growth for our participants and is so fun for everyone.

This work is made possible by our committed funders including the Hewlett Foundation, New Schools Venture Fund, McMicking Foundation, Quest Foundation, the Society of Community Work, Chamberlin Foundation, Title Nine and the City of Richmond. We also thank our Board of Directors for their continued help and support with our fundraising efforts.

Lastly we want to say a big thank you for being on this journey with us. We couldn’t do this without our supporters and champions. We hope to see you at one of our events soon!

With warm wishes,
Caroline Clarke



  • portAsset 4donations


  • portAsset 5earned

    Earned Revenue

  • portAsset 6grants


  • biz-expenses

    Business Expenses

  • portAsset 4donations


  • portAsset 8facilities


  • portAsset 6grants

    Program Staffing

  • portAsset 5earned

    Professional Services


“I have been able not only to grow as a speaker but to watch and help others grow into confident speakers and use their voices to spark change.”

—Abigail, Age 16


©2023 The Practice Space
317 11th Street, Richmond, CA 94801
www.practice-space.org • admin@practice-space.org

Scroll to Top
Skip to content