Hello Friends, Supporters, and Colleagues!

It’s no secret that we’re living in trying times. Many of the liberties and rights that we champion here at P.S. 314 are threatened each day. But we can’t give in to fear—we must fight back through creativity and innovation.

As the great Toni Morrison once said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work.” Indeed, when limits are imposed, by others and ourselves, this is when we build a new vision and begin to examine the endless possibilities. Creativity gives us a space to design and dream of new opportunities for our own lives as well as the communities around us. Innovation gives us a chance to bring those dreams and designs into a reality. So many things are out of our control—available resources, life circumstances, unexpected curveballs. But what we can control is what we learn along the way and how we apply those learnings to our future.

This month, P.S. 314 is shining a spotlight on a group of individuals who are not only talented and brave, but who have also approached their work with creativity and innovation in a very specific and impactful way. They serve as examples for all of us—when times are dark, we can still find the light if we’re willing to get out of our comfort zones.

Keep dreaming!


In our forthcoming Summer edition, P.S. 314
will feature changemakers who are aggressively attacking the persistent issue of hunger within the District of Columbia. Showcasing three distinctly different D.C. nonprofits, we will present the unique approaches that each has used to address this social issue.

Sheila Strain Clark will join P.S. 314 this summer to write an exciting feature that shows how the landscape for funding socially impactful work has diversified, changed, and even become, dare we say, radical . Sheila is taking on the role as Contributor with P.S. 314 to dive into how we are building programming and funding partnerships to support our ever-evolving community needs. These are difficult times that we are living within and through, layered with a great need for public assistance and services. How we approached these societal problems fifty years ago or even five years ago is quite different than what we do today. Our technology and circumstances have shifted significantly; our solutions should, too.

As people committed to social change, it’s critical that we learn from each other, gleaning strategies to tackle social issues in fresh ways that capture the attention and momentum of our fast-paced society. We’ll explore not only the unique ways that these D.C. nonprofits have strategically aligned their fundraising efforts with their theory of change and core philosophy, but also how this realignment created shifts in their approaches to generating revenue.
Sam Miller , former director of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council from 2010-2016, passed away last month. Sam was beloved in the dance community and known as a visionary arts administrator. It was his pioneering vision as the founder and director of Wesleyan University's Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance that made him a perfect fit for P.S. 314 as Strategic Advisor. Generous in both spirit and expertise, he was one we relied on for innovative and creative thinking.

When ask ed about his role in founding the program at Wesleyan Sam's response was, "I saw a need that wasn't being filled that would not only support the educational development of the students but also build a stronger and more prepared pipeline of professionals for the arts field. That's where you start, with the problem you're solving and then methodically build out what is appropriate to do with measured steps." That perspective consistently helped us consider how best to lead our clients and design our work. He left an indelible imprint on the field and on many individuals. We're so lucky to have had his brilliance even for a short time. Thank you, Sam! 
Since its inception, the United States of America has represented a cross-section of communities who have invested their cultural talents and economic treasures into the local, regional, and national fabric, all of which we hold dear. To truly understand ourselves and each other as a nation united, we must acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of all Americans throughout its history. It is this principle on which the Weeksville Heritage Center stands.

During the 19th century, the village of Weeksville, named for James Weeks, represented a vibrant and independent African-American community. As were so many communities throughout the country at this time, such as Greenwood, Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida, Weeksville was acquired and supported by a group of African-American investors. Today, three fully restored Weeksville homes, the Hunterfly Road Houses, reside in Bedford-Stuyvesant as a testament to this heritage and American history. The cultural significance of these homes cannot be overstated. They stand as a legacy holder representing a model of entrepreneurship, self-sufficiency, and creativity; they represent what is possible in the lives of all American families and communities. 

“Pi is an octopus— she’s got this head that holds this immense amount of knowledge, she can send through those tentacles this venom that infuses you with your own power to do well. All of those tentacles ultimately are all of her skill sets and her knowledge and her humanistic awareness and creative tendencies— she’s an artist! These tentacles would be floating around with all of these different props and objects that lead people to knowing themselves better and thereby doing better work. Pi is one thing. You have to be a visionary leader. But the operations of P.S. 314 are just extraordinary. They’re people people, concept people, and empowerment people.”
– Tia Powell-Harris, former President and CEO, Weeksville Heritage Center
"I'm on a mission to equalize the experience of giving birth for every person in this country." - Kimberly Seals Allers

Congratulations to Kimberly Seals Allers on the recent launch of her new nonprofit organization, Narrative Nation . Narrative Nation ™ champions health equity by democratizing how the story of health disparities is told. The organization fosters co-creation of culturally relevant, narrative-centered, multimedia communication, by people of color for people of color, to foster systemic change, transform current health messaging and communication practices, and catalyze behavioral shifts to eradicate health disparities. Narrative Nation also educates, trains, and mentors youth to become the next generation of health storytellers. Awarded the Media for Change price at a recent MIT Hackathon, Narrative Nation is seeking funding to develop the Irth App , an experiential sharing platform for the health equity movement. Irth (without the "B" for bias) is the yelp for experiences with bias and discrimination in maternity care.

We applaud Narrative Nation and their dedicated efforts to build health equity and continue the fight for racial justice. It's refreshing and inspiring to witness Kimberly and her team reinvest their talents and treasures into a fight for justice in such a unique and creative way.

Entrepreneur Adam Vine is taking on the hypocrisy within the cannabis industry as it shifts from the war on drugs for some to the latest burgeoning enterprise for others. He's also examining the very clear racial justice dynamics that are woven into the industry's history and current political landscape. Modern research data clearly shows the link between the War on Drugs and the destruction of communities of color around the country. From sentencing minimums to police tactics, Blacks and Latinos living in poor and underserved neighborhoods have borne the brunt of America’s effort to get drugs off the streets. Adam Vine believes it is the responsibility of the cannabis industry to pay for the repairs caused by its failures, and he co-founded Cage-Free Cannabis to do just that.

“The cannabis industry, because of its past-- its history of criminalization and prohibition-- bears a special responsibility to fund that work of repair. To help people come back from lockup. To help people grow and get educations and get on with their lives, and then also to help communities of color to really participate in the industry in a meaningful way.”
– Adam Vine, Founder, Cage-Free Cannabis