This Fall, KIPP MA entered a partnership with The Teachers’ Lounge to launch a Regional BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Affinity Space for KIPP MA staff. The KIPP MA Regional BIPOC Affinity space is one way KIPP MA seeks to uphold its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity vision.By creating a Regional BIPOC Affinity Space, KIPP MA and The Teachers’ Lounge seek to create an affirming space for BIPOC staff from across each KIPP MA school and the regional office, to come together to build community, discuss their experiences as BIPOC staff at KIPP MA, and share ways KIPP MA can strengthen their experiences.
Shared Values Lead to Partnership
The partnership grew out of an experience that took place last school year, where KIPP MA covered the travel expenses for staff members to attend Connect, Build, Vibe, one of The Teachers’ Lounge’s signature events where Educators of Color come together from across school districts to share some common struggles, solutions, and successes, and to build community. This was organized by Shameka Coleman, KIPP MA’s Chief Equity and Engagement Officer who is also overseeing the new partnership with The Teachers’ Lounge.
“Staff that attended the event provided us with feedback and three trends emerged. They enjoyed being in community with Educators of Color; they were interested in attending future events hosted by The Teachers’ Lounge; and they believed we should consider partnering with the Teachers’ Lounge to offer similar events with the BIPOC Community at KIPP MA,” stated Coleman. Devin Morris, Co-Founder and the Executive Director of The Teachers’ Lounge shared, “ We have partnered with a number of districts and CMOs. KIPP was the first to rethink what their role can be in supporting EOC and removing barriers to entry. We host free events. But transportation/parking can still be a barrier to entry. KIPP covered transportation costs for attendees, ensuring strong attendance and community building outside of school time. Attendees were able to strengthen relationships with KIPP colleagues, and establish new relationships with BIPOC educators from across the Greater Boston Area.”
KIPP MA staff attend an event hosted by The Teachers Lounge September 2022
Building on KIPP’s Success with Affinity Spaces
Affinity Spaces for staff within schools and in regional spaces are not new to KIPP MA. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and a racial pandemic in 2020, staff at KIPP MA launched a regional BIPOC Affinity space to affirm and support the needs of BIPOC educators. Since then, the vision for regional Affinity Spaces has grown to include building partnerships with community organizations to launch regional affinity spaces in collaboration with KIPP MA staff. With this new partnership, The Teachers’ Lounge team, Devin Morris, alongside,Titciana Barros, Director of Community and Culture, and Yinnette Sano, Special Projects Manager, provide development to KIPP MA staff on how to create and facilitate a BIPOC Affinity Space for staff. The Teachers’ Lounge’s priority is to recruit, revitalize, and retain Educators of Color. While KIPP MA is proud of the fact that 65% of its staff identify as BIPOC, KIPP MA hopes one of the long term impacts of the Regional BIPOC Affinity Space is to retain those staff through ensuring they feel valued.
Building Community Beyond KIPP MA
Another component of this partnership is that KIPP MA staff continue to attend The Teachers’ Lounge’s events to build relationships with BIPOC educators from across districts. Last month, over 20 KIPP MA staff attended The Teachers’ Lounge’s event Last Period in Roxbury, MA.
KIPP MA staff attend an event hosted by The Teachers Lounge November 2023.
KIPP MA looks forward to seeing BIPOC staff from across each of its schools and the regional office come together this month for the launch of the KIPP MA Regional BIPOC Affinity Space in partnership with The Teachers’ Lounge.