Green Dot has always believed in the power of families and students to self-advocate for the kind of community revitalization they need. Whether in advocating for safer and better schools, or working with one another to help pass a $15 an hour minimum wage in Los Angeles, families have always been the most important stakeholders in Green Dot’s work.
Over time, Green Dot and parent leaders have worked to formalize and expand their impact: first by working on campaigns across several schools, then by leveraging the practices of community organizing, and finally by incubating the organizing model as a force for parents and students to seek change. This year, we’ve gone a step further by establishing an independent non-profit with their own Board of Directors -- United Parents and Students (UPAS). And in mid November, the fifth annual United Parents and Students assembly, Forward SoCal, at USC’s Bovard Auditorium brings together civic leaders and advocates for a day of justice.
A Better Tomorrow
The agenda for Forward SoCal is focused on affordable and permanent supportive housing – especially post-defeat of Proposition 10; legitimate youth employment opportunities; and food justice in our communities. In fact, UPAS’ active campaign to improve the quality of local grocers and food options through a certification and outreach program has already been met with some success. Forward SoCal gathers more than 1,000 families, advocates, students, and educators from across the Southland to learn together, and speak truth to power while hearing from key public officials.
A core Green Dot value, we respect others in the communities in which we work and the people who live in them. We are not naïve to the significant challenges that our communities face: this is precisely why Green Dot and UPAS exist.
Ultimately, all stakeholders are crucial to the education system and community health overall. Respecting stakeholders requires active listening and the inclusion of all voices.
Even as UPAS nurtures the power of parents and students to demand meaningful change in their neighborhoods, our work at Forward SoCal is about building sustainable alliances with high-quality community partners to help remove barriers to student learning. We are more powerful together than we are alone: our individual impact is magnified in partnership. And that is how we can move Southern California and greater Los Angeles forward.