Cool Things Wit Cool People is a monthly column by Akeem Dixon focusing on community development. To ask a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out @akeemdixon.
This month’s Dear Akeem is the ultimate Parent Association meeting for birth, foster, god, grand and adoptive parents. Please grab some pizza, soda (tax included), pretzels or whatever your favorite community meeting snack food may be.
As neighborhoods are changing, so too are the students who attend local schools that have previously experienced closures, lack of resources and the sale of the physical buildings.
We’re talking gentrification — touchy subject, I know.
The same new faces you see in the brand-new homes, coffee shops and dog parks of certain neighborhoods have Mini-Mes who now are trickling into the local schools. New faces mean both new issues and old wounds being ripped open, but also new resources and access to networks.
Jennifer Devor, the president of Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary (NICE) in Point Breeze, will explain how the volunteer organization has experienced success in connecting parents to resources and improving the school environment while encountering the challenges that arise when we tackle race, change, outdated policies and class.
Just like Wu Tang, we all love the kids.
Akeem Dixon: What is the origin of the organization? It seems to tackle education, organizing and policy.
Jennifer Devor: Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary, also known as NICE, was founded in 2012 by neighbors looking to support their local public elementary school G. W. Childs.
What started as a relationship between NICE founder Megan Rosenbach and the then-art teacher, Ms. Pandolfi, turned into a variety of volunteer opportunities, and eventually a small group of committed neighbors without children of their own at the time, meeting regularly to support the school, it’s principal, teachers, staff and students. An organization with structure, fiscal sponsorship and a lot of talented individuals was formed.