Organizers of Community Equity Collaborative seek to increase educational equity

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on March 8, 2019

Editor’s note: We can’t think of a better way of commemorating International Women’s Day than highlighting the important work being done by three Menlo Park women.

Through school involvement and other community work, Menlo Park residents Timi Most, Dayna Chung (both pictured above) along with Heather Hopkins began to realize that there were a number of issues around educational equity, particularly in the preschool years, that needed bolstering. So in 2017, they founded the non-profit Community Equity Collaborative as “organizing members” guided by a strong Advisory Board.

“What prompted us initially was getting 10,000 pairs of toddler shoes and figuring out how to get them to children who needed them,” said Dayna. “Clearly Heather’s experience with Toddle [a local preschool] was key but the shoes also got us talking to lots of  people in the community.”

Accomplishments in 2018 included, among others, supplying 1,000 local student with back packs, offering free educational equity and early learning classes to 31 preschool teacher candidates, providing pro bono consulting to six faith-based organizations interested in onsite preschool facilities, and hosting parent organizations from 13 local schools to discuss diversity and inclusion strategies.

“We believe efforts in the preschool area are critical,” said Timi. “How do we make sure there is opportunity for everybody. We don’t have enough teachers and don’t have enough facilities.”

To that end, CEC helps future educators navigate certification programs and connects them to career coaching and quality operators “that support their career growth and professional developments and compensation packages that allow them to thrive in the Bay Area.”

In addition, they are working with partners to increase school breakfast participation in San Mateo County.

“We want to equip individuals who are engaging with children, to help them not just find a job but a career,” said Timi. Added Dayna: “We view it not an achievement gap but rather an opportunity gap.”

On March 17, Community Equity Collaborative co-hosting a “house meeting” along with Bay Area Forward and Menlo Together to “listen to our communities in a broad and deep way in order to understand the realities facing regular people in the Silicon Valley in 2019.” It will take place from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center/Sequoia Room (700 Alma Street). Free registration is available online.

Photo by Robb Most (c) 2019

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