Improving educational attainment was identified as a key community priority in the RLC's original Connection Campaign. As a result, the RLC organized and facilitated more than 30 public community meetings from 2016 - 2018 to which they invited a variety of school and district leaders and candidates for the Aurora district of the State Board of education to engage with Aurora residents on a variety of school issues. This effort drew significant interest from the North Aurora community, and in addition to the RLC members themselves, over 45 residents participated in one or more of these community learning sessions.
The RLC hosted a public forum for the State Board of Education candidates for the Aurora district which was attended by over 150 community members, providing interpretation services for five different languages. The purpose of the candidate forum was to further the community members' knowledge and understanding of how the State Board of Education is related to education issues, actions, and policies at the local level. The candidate forum was a great success and the RLC has since been able to build a strong relationship with the eventual winner, Rebecca McClellan.
Along with the candidates forum, the RLC trained and guided parents for public comment at monthly Aurora Public Schools board meetings. The board meetings give parents the opportunity to publicly share what they have learned and demonstrate their support for establishing quality school options in North Aurora. Through the efforts of the RLC, there are now a significant number of residents ready with the knowledge and capacity to collaborate with school leaders and other community organizations to build a broad, sustainable community organizing effort to improve academic achievement across North Aurora.
The RLC's education work has been supported by many important collaborators including:
This initiative began in 2017 when Aurora residents contacted Gabriela Jacobo, the Community Connector from the CU Anschutz Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. They wanted to start a catering business but did not have access to commercial kitchens or start-up financing. Residents stressed the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate business development services in the area. To address this, Gabriela and other community leaders brought stakeholders, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs together to establish El Alba Cooperative.
El Alba's mission is to support, incubate, and nourish Aurora-based food entrepreneurs and small business owners. It offers culturally appropriate business incubation, shared business services via a co-op model, and shared access to a commercial kitchen and food truck to economically disadvantaged business owners. Co-op members are primarily immigrants and refugees living in Aurora with 90% identifying as people of color.
El Alba represents a powerful alternative to current norms of economic development and combats harmful gentrification of North Aurora. Worker-owned cooperative businesses are widely recognized as a powerful model that supports community wealth building and economic stability. By combating gentrification and creating economic opportunities for current residents, El Alba is preserving the rich diversity of Aurora and building wealth in immigrant and refugee communities.
|RLC Members and Collaborators|