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GroundSpark to Help Address Students’ Fears in Michigan


By | blog, It's Elementary, Latest News, Let's Get Real, Professional Development, Respect For All Project, Straightlaced, That's A Family!

“Our immigrant students thought they’d need to pack their bags because they would have to leave America.”

That’s just one of the reasons Julie, Mushing, the diversity coordinator for Kent County, Michigan, has decided to have GroundSpark conduct a two-day Respect for All Institute for teachers and staff.

Students come from 89 different countries in this district
Photo courtesy of Kentwood Public Schools

There are 20 public school districts in the county including Kentwood, where there is a significant refugee population, students speak 61 different languages, and come from over 89 different countries.

Ms. Mushing started to field calls throughout the presidential campaign, but once the election happened and after November 8th, the situation has gotten much worse. “There is a huge fear among our Muslim students that there will soon be a national Muslim registry,” she says. “Even our African American students think they are going to be sent back to Africa.”

One of the county’s school districts is in a rural area that has a predominantly white middle-class farming community. In recent years, families of other racial and ethnic identities have moved in, and, of course, their children go to school. “People there have the mindset that these kids are not part of the community,” Mushing says. “I wish we could have this training next week!”

During our Respect for All Institutes, our education team uses our documentaries That’s a Family!, Let’s Get Real, Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, and It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School to help teachers become more skilled and comfortable creating safe learning environments. All participants are provided with copies of the films and their teaching guides.

“I hope the teachers who attend will take what they learn back to their schools and help others who work in their building support those students who don’t fit some kind of social norm.”

For the Kent County institute, we’ll be focusing on supporting educators to be more inclusive of students from diverse family structures and to address bias-based bullying.

A portion of the expenses for the Institute will be covered by a generous gift from Irene and Regina Dick-Endrizzi.

If your school district is facing an uptick in bias-based bullying connected to the election, please contact us. We’re here to help.

No Name Calling Week Discount on Our Anti-Bias Documentaries


By | blog, It's Elementary, It's STILL Elementary, Let's Get Real, LGBT, Respect For All Project, Straightlaced, That's A Family!

We were proud to offer free streaming of all of our Respect for All Project films for No Name Calling Week. This month, hundreds of school social workers, guidance counselors, and teachers signed up for the free streams and showed the films to thousands of students during No Name Calling Week. It’s been exciting to hear the feedback from educators.

Amber Schweitzer, a teacher at Castle Rock High School in Castle View, Colorado told us that because of their screening, the school will be inviting a panel of LGBTQ speakers to speak with students.

“Our school is not very diverse.
Straightlaced opened my students’ eyes to not only gender norms,
but also cultural differences they are not used to considering.”

-Amber Schweitzer, teacher

Jen Cusa, a social worker at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in Brooklyn, NY showed Let’s Get Real to 60 students. The highlight for her was after the film, students shared their own experience with name calling and how they coped. They talked about “how they will support others going through similar experiences and help create a safe/kind community.”

For the rest of January, you can still take advantage of the No Name Calling Week 50% discount on all educational purchases of the full quality DVDs and curriculum guides, or educational streaming licenses of these films. Just use discount code NNCW17 when you place your order.

We know these resources are especially valuable as schools work to counteract the messages of bias and division that the presidential race and aftermath has brought.

RAFP films

The Respect For All Project includes five highly acclaimed documentaries, each crafted for targeted age groups:

All the films have accompanying curriculum guides. The films are available close captioned in English and with Spanish subtitles.

The 50% discount in honor of No Name Calling Week ends on Tuesday, January 31 so order your DVDs or streaming licenses today!

Purchase a Film with the No Name Calling Week Discount

Once you select the films you want to purchase, you will be sent to our distributor, New Day Films, and upon checkout you enter the discount code NNCW17 to receive 50% off! You also can enter a purchase order number during check out.

Free Streaming for No Name Calling Week 2017


By | blog, It's Elementary, It's STILL Elementary, Latest News, Let's Get Real, LGBT, Respect For All Project, Straightlaced, That's A Family!

As you have probably heard, students across the country have been experiencing increased levels of bias-based bullying connected to the tenor of the presidential race and its aftermath. That’s why this year’s No Name Calling Week is more important than ever.

nncw17-banner

GroundSpark is proud to partner with GLSEN for No Name Calling Week 2017. To help create safe schools free of name-calling, bullying and bias, we’re offering free streaming of all of our Respect for All Project films during the month of January!

Sign Up for Free Streaming

Our free streams allow educators and youth group leaders to preview five highly acclaimed documentaries, each crafted for targeted age groups:

All titles are excellent discussion starters for college students and professional development as well.

Whether you’re an educator, student, or another kind of school leader, these films are excellent resources for organizing transformative events in your community during No Name-Calling Week.

“GLSEN and GroundSpark are long-time partners in promoting respect for all in our schools. GLSEN connects teachers and students with the tools they need to make a difference, and when used leading up to and during No Name-Calling Week, these powerful films can help foster respectful dialogue around issues of bias and bullying.”
                            –Eliza Byard, Executive Director, GLSEN

Help us spread the word about this amazing opportunity! Share the news on Facebook and Twitter or pass this email along to a friend who works with youth.

The Last Chance Poem


By | blog, Policy Moves, Respect For All Project

We’ve shown you our map
And all our new moves.
Shared plans to hate zap
And this couple’s gift grooves.

Now it’s your turn
Yep, it’s the last chance.
2016’s about to adjourn.
Can you help and enhance?

Last Chance to Make a Tax-Deductible Gift to GroundSpark.

Your generosity supports our Respect for All Project and our new program, Policy Moves.

Thank you so much, and Happy New Year!

From all of us at GroundSpark
Andra, Anne, Brittney, Debra, Eileen, Noah, Oscar, & Serian

Gifts to Help Schools Address Bias


By | blog, Let's Get Real, Respect For All Project

Thanks to a very generous gift from Irene and Regina Dick-Endrizzi, GroundSpark now has a fund designated to help defray expenses to send our education team out to support school communities to address bias-based bullying.

gs-screening

Middle school students strategize how to stop harassment of classmates whose English is limited after watching our film, Let’s Get Real.

The $5,000 donation, made in memory of Irene’s father, Marshall Dick, was given in response to the wave of attacks on students during and after the presidential campaign.

If you would like your end-of-year gift to be added to this fund, please make a note of that in the comments section when you send in your gift online.

Or write “education fund” on your check when you make it out to GroundSpark and mail to 4104 24th Street, Suite 2013, San Francisco, CA 94114.

The president-elect may be spending his time fueling animosity among different communities, but GroundSpark is redoubling our commitment to provide high quality films, curriculum guides, and professional training to ensure that every school is a place where Respect for All is valued.

Join us with your tax-deductible end-of-year gift today.

We’re Bracing Ourselves—We Need Your Help


By | blog, Latest News, Let's Get Real, Respect For All Project

Last week I got a call from a guidance counselor at a middle school in Cincinnati. “We are having a lot of problems since the election,” she said. We’re looking for something to help us get our students’ attention about bias and bullying. Can you tell me about your films?”

After a little more conversation I learned that the harassment was centering on the students who are first generation immigrants, so I told her about Let’s Get Real and the activity in our curriculum guide around racial and ethnic slurs. “Perfect,” she said.

As we look toward Donald Trump taking office next month, we are bracing ourselves for a storm of new challenges in our school communities.

Using our films to train suicide prevention counselors in Georgia this year.

Our donors help us support guidance counselors and teachers all over the country, and oftentimes in other nations as well.

Can you help us get ready for 2017?

Your support will enable us to provide free streaming of all of our Respect for All Films next month in conjunction with No Name Calling Week. We anticipate hundreds of schools will come into contact with our films and curriculum guides for the first time.

Your support helps us respond when schools reach out to us for professional development to help their staff address bias-related bullying and suicide prevention more effectively—like the work we did in Georgia this past year with all the suicide prevention staff at the state’s colleges and universities or the district-wide training we did in the San Diego public high schools about gender and sexuality pressures.

Please, sign on to the GroundSpark honor roll by making your tax-deductible gift to GroundSpark, today.

Introducing Our New Initiative: Policy Moves


By | blog

I was excited about our new initiative, Policy Moves, before the election, but now I know it is absolutely crucial to any effort to implement serious, innovative, progressive policies over the next four years.

GroundSpark is partnering with public interest organizations and government agencies to showcase the best new solutions to address income inequality, climate change, and social injustice.

When we went to Hazard, Kentucky earlier this year for Policy Moves, I met Lora Campbell at six in the morning in front of a subsidized daycare center where she was dropping off her granddaughter.

With the coal industry collapsing, the ability of Lora’s husband to maintain steady employment is tenuous at best. She’s grateful for her minimum wage job selling second-hand clothes, but is only able to go to work every day because the local community development agency built this facility with a mix of public and private investment.

I’m a working granny and it helps me a lot,” Lora says. It costs me only $5 a day. I probably couldn’t work if I had to keep her all the time.”

Unlocking Investment in Rural America, the short film we created in which Lora appears, is part of our new Policy Moves project. We partnered with the Obama administration and CFED, a major public interest public policy organization focused on addressing income inequality.

In just a few months, this film has helped channel over $400 million into community development organizations in places like Hazard, KY!

You can watch the film right now on our Policy Moves website.

“Groundspark succeeded in elevating an issue too long ignored, bringing it to leading philanthropists, policymakers and investors and engaging them in the solution. Your ability to listen, adapt to the needs of the stakeholders, and create a product of beauty is unequalled.”
—Andrea Levere, President, CFED

Regardless of who is in the White House, GroundSpark is working every day to use film to ignite change, address issues of injustice, and advocate for equality.

As you plan your year-end giving, we would be honored to have your support for GroundSpark’s ongoing Respect for All Project and our new initiative, Policy Moves. Join us with your tax-deductible gift today.

Why We Give


By | blog, It's Elementary, LGBT, Professional Development, Respect For All Project

The following story is shared by GroundSpark supporter Jackie Kurcz Frett:

When Dan and I make decisions about which organizations to support, we think about the importance of the work and whether the work is effective. And GroundSpark definitely fits the bill!

jackie-and-dan

Jackie and Dan have been supporting GroundSpark since 2009!

We have been married 42 years and have two adult children, a son and a daughter, and two grandchildren. Our son came out to us as gay in 2004. This event changed the direction of our lives. Dan started a second career as a counselor specializing in couples therapy and LGBT issues. I remained in my career as a chemist but became deeply involved with PFLAG. LGBT civil rights became our passion.

We first made a gift to GroundSpark because of It’s Elementary. I have been sharing it with school social workers, and teachers since I first found it. The teacher training DVD is short enough that they can work it into a presentation even if they don’t have time for the whole documentary. I have given away many copies of the DVD and manual to schools and libraries here in suburban Illinois.

GroundSpark’s documentaries show people we can talk about LGBT issues, and that we are talking about sexuality, not sex. We should be having this conversation at our kitchen tables and in our schools starting in grammar school. It is so important because our young gay people have no one to turn to. There is so much at stake—especially now—with bullying, suicide rates, kids being kicked out, the list goes on and on. School social workers are looking for movies and documentaries for younger and younger students all the time.

The need is great and the work GroundSpark does is so important!

Sincerely,
Jackie Kurcz Frett

Please join Jackie and Dan on the GroundSpark honor roll! Help sustain GroundSpark’s effective and important work.

Today, We Stand Up


By | blog, Latest News, LGBT, Respect For All Project

Today is a very sobering day for so many reasons. But it is also a line in the sand over which we will not—we will never—go back.

I am heartened by the map I saw this morning that showed that if the election had only been decided by those 18-25, the outcome would have been dramatically different.

Together, we have been succeeding in supporting new generations to understand that without respect for all, we have no way forward.

We are not giving up. We are standing up.

For 20 years you have helped teachers all over this country bring compassion, inclusiveness, and an end to bigotry into their classrooms.

You have been with us as our Respect for All Project has made it safer for children growing up in all different kinds of families to stand tall with their classmates.

For middle school youth to find smarter ways to be powerful rather than resort to bullying and prejudice.

For teens to redefine what healthy masculinity looks like, to understand how feminism is key to their mental health, to embrace their true nature no matter what the media or those in power try to tell them.

So today, I just want to say thank you, again, for your courage and commitment and big hearts. I hope you get out and get some fresh air and share as much love as you can.

And tomorrow, let’s get back to work.

Time For A New Kind Of Locker Room Talk


By | blog, Latest News, Straightlaced

Read this entry in the Huffington Post or below.

I have a hard time believing the men who are coming forward now and saying that they have never heard guys talk like Donald Trump in their locker rooms. Why? Because when I interviewed high school students for a documentary about the pressure to conform to gender norms, Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, I heard that kind of talk all the time—in every type of school, all over the country.

In fact, most of the male students I interviewed confided to me about the pressure they face to prove their masculinity by bragging about sexual conquests, fabricating the number of female students they slept with, and making demeaning comments about young women’s bodies.

I sent my (male) camera crew into one high school locker room to see what happened, and it didn’t take long for the basketball players to start naming the females on the cheerleading squad that they were going to “get” any day now.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-12-08-35-pm

“It’s hard for me to act in a different way,” one high school senior told me, “when all I know is the way I’ve been taught….I’ll go back to school and grab a girl’s ass and say, ‘you look really nice in those jeans. And not in a flattering way…in a fully sexual way.”

The pressure on boys to talk trash about girls and to view female bodies as theirs to grab whenever they feel the urge starts early on. It’s sewn into the fabric of our culture’s messaging about what you need to do to be a real man, to not be perceived as gay, to be the king of the crowd.

It’s so insidious that now the man who is one step away from the presidency thinks he can brush away his behavior by labeling it “locker room talk” as if that chatter has no impact on women’s lives, or men’s values.

There will always be #lockerroomtalk, but how about we change what that banter is all about? Boys can grow up to see women as peers instead of animals at their disposal to be stalked and conquered. Men can find healthy ways to feel powerful that don’t require a sexual scorecard.

We’ve seen an explosion of rage about the impact on women of Trump’s sexual assault bravado. But let’s also look at where this behavior starts, and what it will take to really move the dial on the pressure men feel to act like Donald Trump and Billy Bush on the bus. It certainly isn’t going to change with Trump as role-model-in-chief.

Learn more about Straightlaced at www.straightlacedfilm.org. GroundSpark also provides professional development for school districts on gender norm issues.

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