South Mountain YMCA, SOMA Middle Schools Raise Money for Community Coalition on Race With Concert of Hope, July 18

by South Mountain YMCA
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From the South Mountain YMCA

South Orange and Maplewood Middle Schools are collaborating with the South Mountain YMCA to inspire students to share their voice while raising money for the Community Coalition on Race.

Students of both schools have been engaged in expressing themselves by writing poems for the Concert of Hope and to be published in an anthology. These poems embrace the thoughts and feelings about the events that have unfolded over these challenging months.

The schools will then choose 10 writers for the Concert of Hope: a live streaming poetry reading event on Saturday, July 18th at 7 p.m. on South Mountain YMCA social media.

The SOMA community and beyond will have the opportunity to support the Concert of Hope Fund with a suggested donation of $10, $25, $50 or other amount on the Y’s website. Every dollar donated will be donated to the Community Coalition on Race and support the organization’s efforts to increase education around race-related issues in the community.

“Our students have faced and overcome the many challenges that dominated these past few months – including the pandemic, virtual learning, and racial tensions boiling over throughout the country. This project serves as an outlet for many students to make their voices heard and gives their unique perspective on the current events of the world,” said sixth grade English Language Arts teacher Brandon Hillman.  “We are all so thankful to the South Mountain YMCA and the Community Coalition on Race for giving our students a platform to share their experiences, as well as a way to give back to and make a real lasting change in their community.”

“While the South Mountain Y has been staying engaged with our teens over the last months, we are aware that for many, there has been much stress, anxiety, and isolation – all things that can impact mental health,” said James Goodger, South Mountain YMCA Executive Director. “This project gives students a voice. We think it’s important that people in our community recognize the challenges our young people have faced and appreciate what they have tackled, prevailed and overcome many obstacles.” 

Goodger and Hillman agreed that the Community Coalition on Race is the right fundraising partner, as their work is vitally important to the health of children, families, and the community at large.

“The Community Coalition mission is to build and sustain a community that is racially, culturally and socially integrated and truly inclusive where there is equity and equality for all,” said Nancy Gagnier, Community Coalition Executive Director. “There is a lot of work to be done and we are thankful that we have been chosen to benefit from this collaboration, and grateful that students are benefitting from their involvement.” 

Once the anthology of works is completed, all donors will receive a link for a digital download of the students’ collected work and recordings.

How to watch the Concert of Hope:

About the Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges invests in its diverse communities to promote wellness, safety and quality of life for children, adults and seniors. Its seven branches in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hackensack, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility through an array of programs. Some 35,000 people belong to the Metro Y, which awards more than $2.8 million annually in direct and indirect financial assistance.

About the Coalition on Race

The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race is a nationally recognized non-profit organization committed to building a unique, suburban community that is free of racial segregation in housing patterns and community involvement.  The Coalition was founded in 1996 by a diverse group of citizens concerned about stagnating property values and a perceived decline in the quality of local public schools.  Since then, we have developed programs that promote the advantages of living in a racially inclusive community where all aspects of community life are integrated.

About SOMA Schools

The School District of South Orange and Maplewood serves more than 7,200 students in 10 schools, including one early-childhood center, six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. The community and its schools are racially and economically diverse with more than 90 percent of Columbia High School graduates planning to attend college each year.

The mission of the South Orange Maplewood School District is to empower and inspire each student to explore and imagine, to pursue personal passions, and to collectively create a better future by creating a learner-centered environment through multiple pathways; re-imagined structures, systems and supports; innovative teaching; partnering with families; and maximizing community expertise and resources.


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