Wednesday, January 21, 2015

5 Ways schools can make education more accessible to student parents on SheKnows.com

Leilani and I at my college graduation

My latest piece over on SheKnows.com suggest 5 ways schools can make getting an education for teen parents a less stressful task. Becoming a mother at 15 years old and being a student parent for 9 years was very difficult. Not so much because of my "lack of determination" but because of the lack of support student parents receive from high school to college. Read part of my piece below and click through to read the rest. 

Here's how to make education accessible to teen parents
Teenage parents and college-aged parents find it difficult to enter and continue their education when schools are not as helpful as they can be. 
When I became pregnant and gave birth to my daughter at the age of 15, there were very few supportive entities in place for me to go to when I needed help with my responsibilities as a student parent. Despite several challenges, I was able to complete my high school education and graduate on time with the rest of my class.
While in high school, I always heard that college was more easygoing than high school. As a student parent, I was overjoyed to hear this, however, it seemed that colleges were just as bad at handling and meeting the needs of student parents as high schools were.
Now that I have successfully completed both my high school and college education, I can identify a few ways that both high schools and colleges can make education accessible to student parents. 
1. Inform us of and respect our Title IX rightsAll student parents that attend any educational institution that receives funds from the federal government are protected under Title IX rights. Some Title IX rights include having access and accommodations for all pregnant and parenting students and excusing all medically-necessary absences. Also, schools cannot force or coerce pregnant and parenting students to drop out of school or attend "specialty" schools if the student does not wish to leave their school. All federally-funded educational institutions should have a Title IX coordinator for student parents to speak to. 
If your finals are during the time you are expected to go into labor, your professor and the entire institution must allow you to reschedule the finals for a time that works best for you.
Click through to read the rest of
5 Ways schools can make education more accessible to student parents on SheKnows.com

What do you think?
What are some ways schools can make education a reality for student parents?

Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or below in the comments. 

National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health seeking #youngmom intern

I love the National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health. They are a great organization that is doing great work with great people working for them.

They're also great because they are seek a young mom for a PAID internship in New York City!
There is NO GPA or advanced education requirement.

Quick overview of the position:

Job Description: NLIRH seeks a Community Mobilization Intern to collaborate with the Community Mobilization Team to achieve NLIRH's strategic goals by engaging our activists and leveraging our digital media platforms to engaging our online communities. This includes executing base building strategies with the New York Latina Advocacy Network, and creating and managing our social media presence. This individual will be working closely with our Young Parents Cohort and in particular with our young mothers. For more information on this program please visit: http://latinainstitute.org/en/what-we-do/young-parents Candidate must be tech-savvy, have experience working with young mothers, and be an innovative thinker with strong leadership skills and advanced analytical abilities to implement the organization's strategic leadership development goals.
Position Location: New York City, NY
Job Type: 10-15 hour internship; Flexible hours/days [pay is $12/hour]
Job Open Date: February 2015 – June 2015" 
To learn more about the position and to apply click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline is looking for stories.

Posting this opportunity for anyone who may be interested. I have not worked with this group of women before so I can not personally give feedback.THIS IS NOT ONE OF MY PROJECTS. At this time there is no payment for stories. Editor told me they are working that out with the publishers. 

Call for Submissions
Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline (working title)an anthology edited by Caroline Berz, Jessie Scanlon and Kim DaCosta
When General Mills aired a Cheerios commercial featuring a family with a white mother, a black father and a biracial child, many viewers reacted positively, but the ad's YouTube page was filled with so much vitriol that the company disabled comments. A white woman calling in to the black comedian D.L. Hughley's radio show summed up the disgust: "Cereal is white. That has no place at the breakfast table. It's offensive." The Cheerios marketing team doubled down, spending $4 million to run a second ad with the family during the Super Bowl, yet many people are still uncomfortable with the very idea of a black/white family. As Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen put it, "people with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York - a white man married to a black woman with two biracial children." These are the stories of mixed race families that gain national attention. The anger, suspicion, and ignorance they reflect can also be felt in our most mundane daily interactions. Last year, a white man shopping at Walmart with his biracial children was suspected of kidnapping. Black fathers of lighter-skinned children often draw questioning stares, while darker-skinned mothers are often mistaken for "the nanny."

As a nation we are increasingly multiracial, but mixed race individuals and families are still perceived as an anomaly. For those of us living - and parenting -- on the colorline, events like the Cheerios controversy are urgent reminders that the society we are raising our children in is far from "post-racial," regardless of the election of the first African American/white president. Indeed, since Barack Obama moved into the White House, we've seen an increase in violence targeting those of African descent. In the last weeks and months, we have seen America at a tipping point as we have re-engaged in the pain and protest of a nation still wounded from its racist past--and present.

How do these issues affect the day-to-day lives of our families? How do they inform the many ways we parent our children, our hopes and dreams - and fears - for them? How do we go about the daily tasks of building and supporting our families, loving our partners, and growing into our own identities as parents when racism continues to be a defining issue in our schools, on our streets, in our government's policies and sometimes in our own homes?

The essays anthologized in Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline will explore the multiple and complex experiences of parenting children of African and European heritage, and of families formed by transracial adoption. The collection will pay close attention to the ways in which the mixed race identities of children and parents alike are informed by gender, class, sexuality, language and citizenship. The writing will be humorous and lyrical, insightful and critical, and most of all personal, reflecting the joys and challenges of mixed-race parenting.

Topics can include (but are not limited to): pregnancy and birth; adoption; LGBTQ families; interfaith and interracial families; divorce; single-parenting; grandparenting mixed children; racial implications of different parenting philosophies; specifics of parenting mixed girls and boys; gender-nonconforming children and families; special rights children and families; experiences at playgrounds and in mothers'/parents' groups; schools and education; notions of beauty; bullying; policing; questions of multiculturalism and diversity; individual and family identities that push the boundaries of the black/white binary.

Please send the editors a brief description of your proposed essay ASAP (250-300 words), a bio (200-250 words), and a list of previous publications. The essays can range in length and tone, though all should be accessible to a broad audience. Acceptance will depend upon the strength and fit of the completed essay.

As a nation we are increasingly multiracial, but mixed race individuals and families are still perceived as an anomaly. For those of us living - and parenting -- on the colorline, events like the Cheerios controversy are urgent reminders that the society we are raising our children in is far from "post-racial," regardless of the election of the first African American/white president. Indeed, since Barack Obama moved into the White House, we've seen an increase in violence targeting those of African descent. In the last weeks and months, we have seen America at a tipping point as we have re-engaged in the pain and protest of a nation still wounded from its racist past--and present.
How do these issues affect the day-to-day lives of our families? How do they inform the many ways we parent our children, our hopes and dreams - and fears - for them? How do we go about the daily tasks of building and supporting our families, loving our partners, and growing into our own identities as parents when racism continues to be a defining issue in our schools, on our streets, in our government's policies and sometimes in our own homes?
The essays anthologized in Black and White: Parenting on the Colorline will explore the multiple and complex experiences of parenting children of African and European heritage, and of families formed by transracial adoption. The collection will pay close attention to the ways in which the mixed race identities of children and parents alike are informed by gender, class, sexuality, language and citizenship. The writing will be humorous and lyrical, insightful and critical, and most of all personal, reflecting the joys and challenges of mixed-race parenting. 
Topics can include (but are not limited to): pregnancy and birth; adoption; LGBTQ families; interfaith and interracial families; divorce; single-parenting; grandparenting mixed children; racial implications of different parenting philosophies; specifics of parenting mixed girls and boys; gender-nonconforming children and families; special rights children and families; experiences at playgrounds and in mothers'/parents' groups; schools and education; notions of beauty; bullying; policing; questions of multiculturalism and diversity; individual and family identities that push the boundaries of the black/white binary.
Please send the editors a brief description of your proposed essay ASAP (250-300 words), a bio (200-250 words), and a list of previous publications. The essays can range in length and tone, though all should be accessible to a broad audience. Acceptance will depend upon the strength and fit of the completed essay.carolineberz@gmail.com

APPLY: 2015 MCU Scholarship Program

Apply today for the 2015 MCU Scholarship Program!

Municipal Credit Union is currently accepting applications for the 2015 Scholarship Program. This year, MCU will award $66,000 in scholarship grants to college-bound graduating high school seniors, including eight memorial scholarships worth $5,000 and thirteen grants of $2,000 respectively.
This year’s deadline for scholarship submission is end of business day on Saturday, January 31st, 2015.

For more information, visit: http://bit.ly/137eZgL

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Strong Families Youth Online Film Fest curated by Media Literacy Project

Strong Families Youth Online Film Fest curated by Media Literacy Project
Here is the Google form here to submit entries: bit.ly/1BQ7QOb


Deadline to Enter: January 31, 2015 
Postmark by this date. No late entries will be accepted.
Festival Date: March 2015

The Strong Families Youth Film Fest is a national online film festival curated by Media Literacy Project for Strong Families. We are looking for short videos created by youth ages 14-24 that address social issues that impact their everyday lives. We are interested in stories of all video genres that relate topics such as comprehensive sex education, access to healthcare and health information, gender identity, sexuality, body image, reproductive rights, immigration rights, environmental justice and health impacts on people, pregnancy and birth, parenting, childcare access, safety, education reform, prison justice, food justice, or any social justice issue that impacts the strength of families. The videos can be of almost any genre including documentary, narrative, comedy, PSA, music video, or animation. Videos will be judged by a panel of youth, social justice educators and organizers, and professional media makers. Those entries selected will appear in our online film festival in March 2015 on the Strong Families website.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Reducing shame, creating change, and letting us talk: Jendella's Young Motherhood Project


Young Motherhood Project Preview Trailer from JENDELLA. on Vimeo.

Photographer, filmaker and writer, Jendella Benson took on a very interesting and stereotype shattering photo project; photographing former teenage mothers who wanted to share their perspective about having there children in their teens. 
I have been following Jendella for some time on Twitter and was excited when one of my writer sheroes Britni Daniel shared "We're Glad We Chose to be Mothers in our Teens" photo series by Jendella with me. 
The piece is an overview of the entire project and the motivations Jendella had to create the project. Below are some excerpts from the piece. 
Lucy was 17 when she got pregnant. What’s your reaction to that sentence? Go on, be honest. Possibly – probably, even – it was similar to the reaction of Lucy’s doctor. “Unfortunately, Lucy is pregnant,” he wrote in the letter of referral to the midwives. Lucy never forgot how she felt when she saw that letter: it was her moment of realisation about how she would be viewed from now on. “I was surprised people were so disapproving. This was 1998 and I thought it would be no big deal.” 
But young motherhood is a big deal, as Lucy’s experience testifies. She is one of the subjects of a photographic project that next week gets an airing at the House of Commons where its originator, Jendella Benson, hopes it will prompt MPs to question their preconceptions and prejudices about the girls and women who choose, in one guise or other, to become mothers in their teens. The problem with those preconceptions, says Benson, is that they colour everything for the young women. How are they supposed to be positive and upbeat about the most difficult job in the world when everyone around them is mired in negativity and predictions of doom?
How many of us have felt like this?
“The mothers I interviewed felt they were being written off. Motherhood is hard enough at any age, but the hardest thing for these women wasn’t the baby, it was existing in a society that condemned them from the outset.” 
And the reality for many teenage parents is:
“Having a baby when you’re young isn’t a catastrophe, it’s an opportunity: most of the women I met talked about how it transformed their lives in wholly positive ways. The hardest thing they had to deal with wasn’t the baby – it was other people’s prejudice.” 
Read more about the project here.
To learn more about the Young Motherhood project and photo series click here.