COVID-19 has impacted everything. We ache with those who are mourning; we uplift those who risk themselves to keep us safe; we celebrate the love and connection that binds us to one another; we remain fiercely committed to young people.
Schools have closed for the remainder of the year. Right now, Umoja is supporting 55+ school partners with digital lessons, teaching tools, and real-time classroom support. Teachers are creative and nimble. Students are hungry for connection and learning. Administrators are working round-the-clock to support, anticipate, and plan. Everyone is certain of a few things:
• The academic gaps and needs when school resumes will be high
• The social-emotional needs will be varied, enduring, and high
• The potential for identity-based disparities to remain, grow, and persist in the ways that we re-engage as school communities is high
Stay engaged with Umoja as we keep you updated on how we work to meet our school partner needs during distance learning and in preparation for the future. Re-invest in Umoja as we work to leverage Chicago as an exemplar for what it can look like to prioritize the needs and wellness of humans as we weather this pandemic together. Join us as a community who believes in the greatness of Chicago; who is committed to transformational, structural change; who understands that change-making work takes investments of time and resources. Join us as we work to persevere, reimagine, and continuously connect again.
With radical love + unity,
The Entire Umoja Team
UMOJA COVID-19 RESPONSE
CURRENT SCHOOL PARTNERS
Umoja continues to support our Chicago-based and national partners digitally. In Chicago, through virtual classrooms, professional development, and the digitization of numerous lessons and tools, we continue to impact over 800 students across the city at 15 schools. Across Chicagoland and spreading across the nation, the demand for our professional learning support has never been higher. Partner administrators remain committed to support their staff through professional development; Umoja remains committed and busy, serving a total of over 55 schools.
RESPONSIVE TOOLS + SUPPORT
SCHOOL REUNION TOOLKIT
Coming this June + Accessible State-Wide!
The incorporation of thoughtful, human-centered connection during distance learning and in preparation for eventual school resumption is needed. There are 56.6 million elementary and secondary students in the US, 40% of whom have no internet access at home. The disparities in access and learning during social distancing are high. We cannot afford to replicate or perpetuate these disparities when we reunite in schools. The need for a thoughtful, human-centered plan for reunion and re-engagement in schools is unequivocally indicated. We are ready to support district leaders and administrators to prepare for school resumption with the Umoja School Reunion Toolkit.
The Umoja School Reunion Toolkit includes:
• 10+ Virtual SEL training modules, materials, discussion outlines for staff meetings to deepen learning and create consistency of adult practice
• Weekly Umoja SEL classroom community-building activities and circles
◦ Including weekly SEL mini-videos aligned to DEI, Post-Secondary, communication, Restorative Justice skill-building
• School-wide SEL messaging toolkit, Including hallway posters, in-school announcements
• Caregiver & Family Systems Communication Tools compendium to create common SEL language across schools, student residences, and family systems
Because Umoja believes the social-emotional needs of students and adults for school re-engagement will be high and prolonged, and in anticipation of new school needs developing with time, we plan to provide free digital downloads with new and updated content throughout the coming school year to Toolkit users. This support is intended to be responsive, dynamic and accessible state-wide. Subscribe to the Umoja Connects Newsletter (below) to receive updates on this toolkit.
FREE EDUCATOR TOOLS
This three-lesson mini-unit is an adaptation of Umoja’s 12th grade curriculum on Decision Day. These lessons provide an outline for teachers, counselors, and PLTs to create a meaningful virtual Decision Day celebration for the Class of 2020.
DOWNLOAD THIS TOOL NOW!
UMOJA CHECK-YOURSELF SELF-AWARENESS TOOL
Cultivating a practice of self-awareness is vital to ensure that we’re able to meet one another with radical love and minimize unintended harm. Never a time could this be more true than now.
DOWNLOAD THIS TOOL NOW!
UMOJA ICE BREAKERS + CHECK-IN QUESTIONS
A sense of belonging in the classroom is key to rich academic engagement. Intentional relationship building and check-ins are vital to distance-learning engagement. Download some of our favorites here!
DOWNLOAD THIS TOOL NOW!
Due to the changes all around us, within our partnerships, and in our own homes during this time of social distancing, Umoja has taken steps to adjust how we work together by implementing a Wellness Plan. A lot is different for us (especially right now) but the most important things -- the values we share and the value we can bring to our partners -- are still the same. During these uncertain times, we are working to strike a balance between caring for ourselves while making sure we provide our partners with the support and attention they need.
Similar to industries that use a staggered staffing approach (such as healthcare), Umoja Team Members have been placed into groups that cycle through weekly schedule rotations together. Each group spends a week on call handling all stakeholder requests and needs, while the other groups focus on strategic projects or on practicing intentional self-care. This allows Umoja to fulfill its commitments to partners while ensuring that team members have space to balance the extra demands of home and health during COVID-19. If you are interested in how to make this work for your organization, reach out to for more details.
LEARN WITH UMOJA: COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS
Distance learning is for students AND adults! Join Umoja for virtual learning alongside educators, administrators and sector leaders from across the nation! Umoja is building virtual reconnection tools and trainings for schools and educators in anticipation of future school resumption. There's no time to waste in ensuring that schools are ready to reconnect. Register for upcoming workshops today!
SUBSCRIBE TO THE UMOJA CONNECTS NEWSLETTER!
Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter, Umoja Connects, to stay in-the-know about Umoja’s response to the impacts of COVID-19, upcoming training opportunities, cross-sector shout-outs, free digital downloads, content release and more!
NON-UMOJA COVID-19 RESOURCES
INVEST IN COVID-19 RESPONSIVE INNOVATION
We are responding to the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19 right now. We are being called upon by district leaders across the nation to support as “SEL first responders.” Unfortunately, our own ability to do so is significantly strained as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our own financial health. In total, we expect to have lost roughly $388,000 as a result of lost individual donors and as a result of canceling our single largest annual fundraiser on March 13. We need and want to respond to this unprecedented request for support, and our financial capacity to maintain and thrive in order to do so has never been more strained. More than ever, we need your support.