February 1 – Black History Month Celebration & Movie Night

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FBLIVE: Confessions of A Parent ADVOCATE

Facebook Live Confessions of Parent Advocate-2



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Going Beyond – A Gift For You. Are You Ready?

Untitled design


Martha’s Vineyard was epic this year! Thank you to all who attended.

Shout out to Point Made Learning.

Riverdale Country School, Horace Mann School, & Westover School generously made it happen along with donations from unique vendors! We can’t forget the tremendous wisdom of our co-hosts Dr. Barnett & Dr. Jolly.

We brought you back the GIFT of legacy.  Are you ready? Unlock the potential below.


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Requirements: Advocacy & Engagement


Chaz Elon Sr Fresh

This school year is extra special! Having started our indy school journey with kindergarten, my kids are now bookends in upper school -a freshman and a graduating senior! [Applause] Thank you, thank you.

Parents, we make huge investments (our kids & our money) in choosing an independent school education. We’re busy holding it down and all together, but let’s not underestimate the power of investing in visibility and voice. It can have a tremendous payoff for our amazing kids and the entire school community. We bring so much value to our institutions.

My kids are thriving and not just surviving in an independent school because of parent advocacy and engagement. It is very intentional. It can look different between parents. But, one thing is for sure, showing up is everything! It can make things happen. Consider how you’ll advocate and engage this year, and start now. Don’t wait until you have to rely on those relationships.

We should hold schools and ourselves accountable by first building relationships.

  • Make it your business to engage with your head of school & other admin.
  • Support recruitment with the admission team.
  • Partner & volunteer with a diversity of parents & educators to build community.
  • Acknowledge and thank the staff that looks out for the kids.
  • Make suggestions for equitable and inclusive curriculum.
  • Respectfully push back when you need to.
  • Challenge the status quo with thoughtful suggestions when necessary.
  • Walk alongside, and ahead in support of your children of color navigating independent school culture.

Not sure how to build or manage those valuable relationships? Have little to no time to do it? Are you struggling with a challenge? Perhaps, you have a success story you want to share. RIISE is here for all of that through advocacy and engagement. So, stay close and reach out to us directly (info@4RIISE.org)-we got you!

Like many independent school families of children of color, we have a vision, we keep our eyes on the prize, and we have a responsibility.

How will you advocate and engage this year?



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Back to School Tips. Ready? Let’s Go.

Let’s go.
Back to school.


Hey, RIISE Fam!

FACT: The final days of summer and the start of a new school year is upon us!

There is so much to look forward to as we support our kids this new academic year.

We put together a few RIISE tips for a smooth transition and a strong start.

If you have any sage advice to kick off the school year right, please comment below!

*Keep smiling, and take a bit of summer with you.

*Yep, you have to get your head back in the game and begin to open, calendar, and respond to school notices, promptly.

*No matter the grade, take a moment to express to your child/student your excitement and expectations for a phenomenal school year and that you’ll be there to encourage, support & advocate for them.

*Partner as a parent/guardian by sending a brief introduction email to your child’s teacher or dean sharing who your child/family is student’s strengths/areas for growth, and your desire to engage for a successful year!

*Don’t underestimate the power of showing up.

Remember, it takes a village, so share a timely ‘new school year’ tip below.

One more thing…you don’t have to miss RIISE news, updates, people, schools, or events, ever! Just sign up for our upcoming newsletters at www.4RIISE.org

Ready? Let’s go.

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February 6 | Parent Viewing & Talkback – I’m Not Racist…Am I?


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[Newsletter] RIISE MID-SUMMER MUSINGS: Admissions & Martha’s Vineyard



Missing summer already?
It seems as soon as we get into the swing of things, it begins to fade, fast.  

Fact is, summer is actually five days longer than winter.
Then why does it feel so short?

Perhaps, there too many misleading markers:
~ the end and the start of a new school year
~ the beginning and end of summer Friday’s
~ then, there’s Memorial & Labor Day

But, even if we go with Labor Day, we have 
49 days of summer left!
And, RIISE has a few cool events happening.
We hope you can join us!

want to read more? click here.

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August 9 & 10 [RIISE MV 2018] Sistas on The RIISE + Brunch & Beach

Thursday, August 9, 11 am – 2 pm
YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard

Sistas On The RIISE will nourish and encourage all Marthas to embrace their resilience and vulnerability; creative spirit and sheer will; their ability to heal and inspire the future.

The namesake story of Martha’s Vineyard is not definitive, so we’re choosing to go with a self-serving account. It is one that nourishes and acknowledges over a century of Sistahood on this magical island.

During the 19th century, our Martha came running towards freedom bringing her resilience and power. Here, she could be her phenomenal self finally letting her crown go and her supernatural flow. 

She still blooms and thrives raising up generations who find solace in her arms. 

This is our Martha and she is yours too! Join us for Sistas On The RIISE!

What you should expectA diverse collective of Sistas of influence, style, and grace who will be exalted and pampered with:
*radical self-care, beauty, & affirmation
*restorative mindfulness, music & movement
*delicious fruit smoothie & nutrition station
*Sista Swag Bags too!

Sistas On The RIISE gathers a group of diverse and contemporary women, Boomers to Gen Z, to focus on celebration, empowerment, and wellness. It’s an inspiring and well-deserved moment embracing the potential of the female spirit; health and beauty; resilience and vulnerability; leadership and creative spirit.

Sistas On The RIISE will affirm and support today’s woman -her power, challenges, and intersectionality within today’s society. The event welcomes our wellness practitioners, thought-leaders, and creatives affirming and supporting today’s woman -her power, challenges, and intersectionality in today’s society. Sista Swag Bags delight!

**Boomers to Gen Z’ers are welcome! Dress comfortably.

Gina Parker Collins, RIISE Founder & Dr. LaShonda Barnett, historical author of Jam on The Vine & Friends

RIISE MV 2018 Events supported by Vibrant Health, Riverdale Country School, Horace Mann School, Westover School, Juice Press, Earthmade Skincare, Radical Dreams

Another RIISE MV Event! Click the link below for more details
RIISE Brunch & Beach: Legacy Wealth on MV – Friday, 8.10, 2p @The Winnetu featuring Legacy Speaker Dr. Pamela Jolly, speaker & author -The NarrowRoad: A Guide to Legacy Wealth

Accommodations & Travel

Read More »

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Sista Spells Abracadabra!

louander_600artist: Elon Collins

What woman of color didn’t blush as Mehgan Markle ascended the British monarchy like only a Sista could. She defied racial and social status designed for her. Heck, she may have even single-handedly saved the monarchy by redefining convention and inserting her identity as feminist and woman of color.

And, what about brilliant, powerful, and beautiful Sista Valerie Jarrett? Her response to public racial taunts was classy. ‘I’m okay’ she said. Protected by her networks, she worries about those who don’t have a similar privilege.

Thus far, I’ve been emphatic about the use of Sista to reference women of color, in particular, Black women. I love this affirmation. It instinctively and intuitively distills sister. It affirms gender, diasporic and current connections.

It is collective energy often seen as MAGIC.

Increasing visibility and power, WOC are leading movements that redefine culture. They are winning politically, in Hollywood, and yes, you guessed it in independent schools too.

For over ten years I’ve watched my own daughter and other indy school girls of color develop into impressive young women rising to be seen and heard in independent schools.

It is no small task.

How do they shine through intersections of race, culture, gender, sexuality, and socio-economics?

They make it look magical.

How do these young women show up daily and excel in rigorous, elite and predominantly white academic spaces?

With courage, resilience, and brilliance.

But, not without some cost.

Quietly or loudly (don’t confuse with anger) they persist and resist in ways that require nothing but pure magic. Read More »

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Post # 7: What We’ve Learned. Independent School Educators.


Over the years we’ve experienced how the selective process of independent school teacher recruitment benefits overall classroom dynamics, curriculum, and student outcomes. Independent school educators tend to be passionate and empowered about teaching. They come prepared, not just with degrees but areas of expertise. They are enthusiastic and many share their outside interests through after-school programs like sports, theater, STEM, and social justice. I have had the pleasure of meeting many dynamic educators teaching at independent schools.

On Saturdays in early September, our middle and upper school hosts Parents Day. It mirrors what the school year will be like for students getting to class on time, approaching classroom curriculum and dynamics. The expectation is that teachers will wow us with their expertise in a subject and communication skills, reassuring parents that we’ve made the absolute right decision in investing in the school.

I often walk away from that day feeling confident, energized and exhausted. And, there are moments when teachers really wow us as parents. We envy the early learning environments teachers provide for our young children, and we are totally impressed by the level of engagement teachers offer our college prep students.

Families of color have extra expectations about teachers and classroom dynamics. Here are the ones that come top of mind. It is our hope they will inform other parents of color partnering with our schools.

* We want to see more faculty of color. They’re scarce. There are a number of reasons including lack of historical representation and salary. Yes, public school teachers are paid more than private (but, there are other valued benefits), unless there is a leadership role attached to it. Faculty of color is beneficial for all children.

*We also want to stand in solidarity with our valued faculty and administrators of color as we face similar experiences in predominantly white spaces.

*We want to make sure teachers see our kids for who they are. We want them to control the room for stereotype threat, microaggression, and invisibility.

*We want our kids to develop student-teacher connections that encourage independence, curiosity, and access to continued academic and leadership opportunities.

*We expect open door policy and accountability too.

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