National Seed Community: Richmond, CA
In Richmond, California, RYSE’s Director Kanwarpal Dhaliwal says that the vision young people created 20 years ago for a space to build loving power continues to be realized.
The organization will celebrate the grand opening of its 45,000 square foot community center, RYSE Commons, in the Spring of 2022 where it will be a home to West Contra Costa youth and the work that forms ‘loving relationships to build loving power to create loving systems.’
Our North star is that young people feel loved and that systems love our people. That means some systems got to go and we have to build the ones we all deserve.”
—Kanwarpal Dhaliwal, RYSE Director
Reflecting back on the support from the Obama Foundation program My Brother’s Keeper, RYSE asked “what does it mean to anchor in a way that acknowledges community, the land, that mitigates the forces of rapid displacement our communities are facing?”
Guided by the principles of healing, justice, decolonization, reparations, and liberation, RYSE centers youth and the assumption that all are deserving in groundbreaking coalitional work that provides convening space, awareness of self, and systems transformation.
Before the pandemic, Richmond communities were already in an “immensity of distress.” But in 2020, RYSE was tasked with addressing the dual emergencies of COVID-19 and the uprisings in response to the police murder of George Floyd.
We know you have a need. That’s all we need to know
Through COVID relief distribution in partnership with the city, RYSE and partners raised more than $1.4 million in funds earmarked for direct disbursements to young people and families. With community and government leaders from the City of Richmond, the RYSE Center, The West Contra Costa Public Education Fund, Richmond Promise, and Building Blocks for Kids, The Richmond Rapid Response Fund (R3F), distributed $500 direct payments to almost 800 individuals and families. A percentage of funds have been allocated to young people and families who are directly impacted by lethal injury. RYSE and The Office of Neighborhood Safety continue to coordinate supports, resources, stabilization, and sanctuary for those most structurally vulnerable and in acute distress.
The Fund will continue to address COVID-19 and also go beyond to address economic recovery and security, food and essential supplies, housing and homelessness, health and healing, and education and learning more broadly. Under the banner of the West Contra Costa COVID Community Care Coalition, RYSE convenes up to 100 County, city, public health, and social service providers to coordinate and advance collaboration and improve service delivery to youth and target populations. Over 600 adult stakeholders have attended a four part Racial Reckoning series. 95 percent of participants say that through participating in RYSE they have a better understanding of self and their relationship to community.
Meanwhile, RYSE youth demanded radical change that led to the creation of the Contra County Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice where community organizations sit on the planning committee and youth are centered in the listening sessions to develop its mission and scope.
Through RYSE, young people are collaborating with the Office of Neighborhood Safety to set guiding principles that affirm youth. They are teaching teachers in the school district how to create trauma informed healing space or how to creatively integrate math and arts together. They moved the school district to change public comment to the beginning of Board meetings to prioritize youth participation instead of at the end where it was often cut short for time. And soon, they will be gathering in their own state-of-the-art Ryse Commons facility to house the work to come.
As they make strides, they also caution that programmatic work without systems change is ‘addressing the cough without addressing the sickness.’ They warn that such efforts can do damage if they selectively create hope without the systems change that would justify it.
If we are to be my brothers’ keeper, that means all of the kin and the ecosystem… It should not be that you’re successful when you make it out the hood. It should be you’re successful when you affirm, invest, heal, and transform the hood.”
—Sam Vaughn, Office of Neighborhood Safety