Lunchbreak Program Results Prove Mounting Support of Public Education Reform
Last month, Technology Access Foundation (TAF) premiered its annual luncheon fundraiser, TAF Varsity Lunchbreak: Equity in Action, a virtual program exploring TAF’s approach to transforming K-12 public education for students, teachers, and administrators across WA state. The program challenged viewers to assess how they could use their power to take action — through partnership, advocacy, volunteerism, or financial support — to provide thousands more students with access to a high-quality, equitable education.
As a result of the Lunchbreak virtual luncheon program and the following TAF Lunchbreak Giving Days, we are proud to announce that we raised almost $280,000 and surpassed our viewership goal by receiving over 1,600 views the first week. These achievements would not have been possible without the support of many members of our TAF Community.
During the program, viewers learn about how TAF has supported students and educators during distance learning through year highlights and personal testimony by Mary Schimmelbusch from Beverly Park Elementary, our newest addition to the School Transformation program. Additionally, a unique feature of this year’s luncheon was the new “Choose Your Own Adventure” viewer experience. Halfway through the program, viewers can select a pathway to watch the remaining half of the program and deepen their understanding of how TAF nurtures equity, leadership, and ultimately success among students, teachers, and education leaders of color. Explorative paths include Student Voice and Choice, Network for EdWork, and Career-Connected Learning featuring several TAF community members. Later in the program, Daniel, a TAF@Saghalie senior, opens up about how TAF has prepared him to pursue his interests, no matter how big.
“As a person of color, I’ve often felt invalid or not taken seriously. When I told TAF about all the things I wanted to accomplish, they didn’t laugh or belittle my dreams the way many others have.”
“TAF has helped me explore topics and places I never would have thought of on my own,” Daniel shared. “As a person of color, I’ve often felt invalid or not taken seriously. When I told TAF about all the things I wanted to accomplish, they didn’t laugh or belittle my dreams the way many others have. They sat down with me, multiple members, and listened and affirmed me. And they said, “Okay, I understand what you’re trying to do. How can we help get you there?”
Daniel has dreams of being a UN ambassador, one of the first Asian-American Congress members, and perhaps, he says, Vice-President. While reflecting on his time at TAF@Saghalie, he said, “If TAF has taught me anything, it’s not to let the craziness of my bucket list items and dreams stop me from aspiring big.” [jump to Daniel’s story]
At TAF, we are notorious for identifying needs and taking necessary steps to fill in the gaps — in our work as an organization, but most importantly for underrepresented students, teachers, and school administrators of color. Our deepest desire to create equitable public educational opportunities has required us to constantly look for new ways to take action.
TAF Co-Founder and Executive Director Trish Millines Dziko closed the program with this question: “What will it take to ensure students of color in Washington State have teachers and school leaders that have a shared culture and understanding of who they are and how to best educate them?”
We’ve already expanded our Network for EdWork program, supporting educators and leaders of color through all stages of their careers, and have met our strategic goal targets of serving over 20,000 students through our programs.
Now, it’s time to see how we can continue to take action and build upon a model that has proven successful over the past almost 25 years, and with funding and resources, expand our programs to redefine public education as we know it.
Following the Lunchbreak premiere, registered viewers had the chance to join a follow-up webinar to ask clarifying questions about TAF’s approach and plan to reach more students, teachers, and leaders in the coming years.
Thanks to our incredible sponsors who helped us bring our program to life: Our Premiere sponsor Zillow, Traveller sponsor Amazon, and our Sightseer Community Partners Comcast, Alaska Airlines, and First Federal. We are also grateful to the 2021 TAF Lunchbreak Ambassadors, TAF Board of Directors, staff, and many others who supported us in our efforts.