San Luis Obispo County is a wonderful place to raise children. Our community is fortunate to have good schools and family-friendly activities. Yet, some families, particularly those who are underrepresented, do not always feel like they belong. With so little racial and ethnic diversity, it’s often difficult for families of color to feel a deep sense of connection, value or respect in their schools or neighborhoods. Moreover, microaggressions, and sometimes, overt actions directed toward families of color, can result in fear and isolation. Unfortunately, some families leave, rather than make the county their permanent home. The initial idea for RaiseUp developed several years ago out of discussions with R.A.C.E. Matters SLO County, which recognized a need for a parent group to address the issues facing families of color. RaiseUp began with small gatherings of women of color and their allies, all of whom were dedicated to increasing diversity, equity and inclusivity. Led by women of color, the goal of RaiseUp is to transform the community by creating an environment where children of color, and all children, can be safe, supported and heard.
To accomplish this task, RaiseUp is committed to its three pillars: education, community building and advocacy. Although it is a new organization, volunteers have been involved in a host of educational efforts, which is in keeping with the vision of raising race-conscious children. The group has conducted Parent Participation staff development training, focused on helping educators to teach children about social differences, and learning how to create inclusive classrooms. Last year, volunteers organized a fundraiser and gift registry drive for inclusive supplies, More workshops are planned for the fall at the San Luis Obispo Adult School. Community building efforts have included a Playdate in the Park, the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, and the Social Justice Education Fair in Santa Maria. RaiseUp aims to be the county organization that families and educators can count on to offer the programs, resources and strategies to move us toward greater inclusion and racial equity. The group, which recently gained fiscal sponsorship through Ecologistics, looks forward to collaborating with other organizations to create a SLO County that feels like home to all families.