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Becoming Beloved Community Schools supports literacy, the arts, and more

Vivo Youth Orchestras slated to come to Dunbar

Laurie Boone Hogan

The mission of Becoming a Beloved Community– Schools (BBC–Schools), sponsored by St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Kenwood, is to establish a long-term commitment of advocacy for social justice rooted in the philosophy of “love your neighbor,” and to support the education and well-being of the most vulnerable children in our two neighborhood elementary schools, Dunbar School in Glen Ellen and Kenwood School in Kenwood.

Inspired by the social justice work of the National Episcopal Church under the leadership of presiding Bishop Michael Curry, several members of St. Patrick’s decided to apply for the national church’s Rapid Response Grant to address the inequities in our area exposed by the coronavirus. To begin this ministry, St. Patrick’s gave BBC– Schools $5,000 to purchase food gift cards for very needy families at Dunbar School and to provide hotspots for distance learning for some families at Kenwood School.

As our relationship with the schools developed, the BBC– Schools team realized that meeting the needs of local children and their schools required a long-term commitment of support.

Through the generosity of the Rapid Response Grant and many individual donors and like-minded organizations, BBC–Schools has been able to raise the funds necessary to engage in a variety of projects that foster our mission of supporting the education and well-being of neighborhood schoolchildren. Some of the projects undertaken so far include providing “Take a Break Kits” for children in both schools during distance learning and Secret Santa Christmas gifts to 72 children at Dunbar School who provided wishlists.

When BBC–Schools realized the Dunbar library needed to upgrade its collection, especially in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), science, and the arts, donors came through with substantial funds to meet these needs. DEI books were also donated to Kenwood School’s library.

In addition, students from All Saints Episcopal School in Carmel, Calif., donated more than 800 books for Dunbar scholars to build libraries at their homes, with BBCSchools providing a bin for each child to house the books. This program of donating books to children and upgrading the libraries is an ongoing commitment.

BBC–Schools is now coordinating with Vivo Youth Orchestras to introduce and implement an outstanding music and orchestral program at Dunbar School based on the El Sistema model. The hope is that in the future, the after-school program will become part of the in-school music program.