Dear UP partners and friends,

On Friday, I had the opportunity to meet virtually with members of our Youth Advisory Council (YAC). The YAC represents both middle and high school youth from across VT. We sat together with the heaviness of the news that the school buildings would be closed for the remainder of the school year. We struggled with the fact that this reality will likely expose and illuminate the inequities present in our schools. We wondered aloud how youth might mobilize to support one another and their communities. And, we considered how this time away from the school building and the conventional structures of "schooling" might potentially allow youth to explore their curiosities, develop real world skills, contribute to solving real world problems, or connect young people with rich networks of adults in their community and beyond. 

At UP for Learning, we are guided by the belief that at the heart of every human is a deep desire to belong and contribute good in the world . This desire is becoming more visible as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts our daily lives, the economy, our healthcare system, and every level of our education system. Our team has been coming back to these questions:  

  • What does it mean to be there for one another? 
  • How can UP facilitate connections for our school teams even when the physical distance is greater? 

This blog from Agency by Design Oakland Blog resonated deeply with me and reflected the conversations UP has had internally and with our youth-adult partners over the past weeks. In their blog post, they shared their "critical moves" that are guiding their organization right now and I hope that these can be the critical moves that guide all of our work moving forward :

  • Be human and kind to one another. Navigate our collective capacity. 
  • Make decisions based on students’ equity needs. Engage in empathy exercises, again and again and again. 
  • Use this moment to dismantle traditional classroom structures built on racism and compliance. Question our own biases. Double down on our beliefs about liberatory teaching & learning. 
  • Find & forge paths and resources that cultivate learners’ agency, a sense of internal curiosity and academic mindset.

I would encourage you to read the full post: Agency by Design Oakland Blog

Last week, I shared UP's commitments to you:

  • Communicate: Keeping in touch with all of our UP school teams during the school closure is our priority. We are here to respond to all of our UP partners with compassion, support, kindness, flexibility and creativity! 

  • Support the facilitation of connections with teams and between teams. Consider UP the facilitator of connections!  

  • Reimagine what could be different about schools now and when we return? 

Please reach out to us if you want to connect, need resources, support, or guidance.



Lindsey Halman
Executive Director