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Thursday, August 7, 2020 | Volume 7

Welcome to the seventh Newspark newsletter.

Not sure if you've seen, but ...
🎉 We launched a Google Chrome extension! 🎉
We're calling it Find and Fund Racial Justice, and its a free extension  that helps you donate to Black Lives Matter-related charities from any webpage. Simply click on the yellow extension, select from a list of charities, and donate. It's that easy.

Charities displayed on the extension are thematically and geographically related to the content you’re viewing. 100% of each donation goes to the recipient charity. You can learn more about organizations — including their Charity Navigator ratings —  without leaving the page.

Check out this how-to video:
You can download the extension for free in the Chrome store, here.

As always, we're interested in partnering with nonprofits and newspapers who share our goal of bringing about change through media. If this sounds like you, drop us a line.

You're one click away from making a difference.

See you next week,
The Newspark team

Amy Friedman knows first-hand that incarceration is hard on families — her two daughters grew up with a father in prison. “The impact on my daughters was profound, and mostly negative because of the stigma attached,” she said.

They were hardly alone. One in 14 children has or has had a parent who’s incarcerated, according to the Casey Foundation, which makes the impact of that stigma even more outstanding.
It was something Amy wanted to address. She modeled POPS the Club in the image of the LGBTQ+ support groups that originated in the 1980s, providing a safe space in high schools where kids could talk about their shared experiences.

The first POPs club opened at Venice High School in California. There are now POPs Clubs in 14 schools, in California, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Newspark: You were a writer for much of your life. Were there skills that you had as a writer that prepared you for the transition to managing a nonprofit?
Amy Friedman: [Laughs] That’s a great question, and no, except for this: that one of the things we do for POPS is publish a book every year of the writings and artwork created by members of the clubs. I am a skilled editor with lots of experience in publishing, and so that part of the venture has been the easy transition for me. Everything else has been a very steep learning curve.
NP: What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to start a nonprofit, and maybe is a bit evergreen when it comes to that skill set?
AF: One is that, before launching a nonprofit, really look at the landscape to see if there are other nonprofits that exist with whom you might partner.
Also, there are a lot of great programs for training executive directors. And I would say absolutely, absolutely get training. Don’t think that you can do this without some real skill development.
NP: What were some trainings you did?
AF: There’s an organization here in southern California called the Executive Service Corps of Southern California. They have a program that’s the Executive Directors Leadership Institute, which is a yearlong training program that was spectacular. And then I’ve had a lot of coaching and gone to a lot of leadership workshops since that time, including the Vital Voices Global Ambassadors Program.

John B. and Amy (Photo courtesy of Amy Friedman)
NP: Why does POPS work in high schools, and not in another level of schools?
AF: That’s a good question. The reason for focusing on teens is that the model is designed as a peer-based model. The clubs themselves become kind of family, and teens are finally at the age where they can sort of break out of little cliques that they had when they were younger. It’s much harder to walk into a room full of people you may not know otherwise.
That said, we are in a few middle schools in Atlanta as a pilot, and we have done some partnering with middle schools where our high school kids go in as big brothers and big sisters to work with younger kids. And as we grow and as we deepen our capacity, I would like to do more of that, because younger kids need support, too.
NP: Do you think being at home and not having the physical space of POPs changes the way that students interact with the club?
AF: So, the impression I have — and some of this is from a little bit of surveying we’ve done — is that it’s every bit as meaningful, but it is much harder for them to speak. Interestingly enough, what I was really worried about is that the room is a really safe space, and I was worried about that not being possible on Zoom. And it seems to be translating, but it is much harder to instigate conversation and deep personal engagement. We’ve shifted a little bit to having more guest speakers and mentors come in to provide support and guidance.
And then for some of them, it’s really hard for them to come because they share a computer with many different people in the family, or internet connection is unstable. So there are challenges for sure, and we’re looking forward to being back in the classroom.
But I have to say that like the striking thing for me is that POPS still feels really good. It’s surprising that the kind camaraderie that exists in the room can translate to an online space.

Amy Friedman is the founder and Executive Director of POPS the Club. Note: POPS the Club is one of Newspark's charity partners.
Click here to donate to POPS.
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