SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping most students isolated from their social support systems, many now need a creative and constructive way to express their feelings about current events.

Students Rising Above is meeting that need head on for its scholars. When the Bay Area based non-profit’s EdTech Design Coordinator Allison Bumatay witnessed her community explode in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, she knew she had to act.

“We wanted to do something to make sure that people knew that SRA was still standing in solidarity with the movement,” explained Bumatay. “We wanted our students to make sure that their voices were heard.”

So Bumatay, along with SRA EdTech intern Liliana Pacheco, created “Dear Community,” an online initiative encouraging Students Rising Above scholars to share videos, essays and art, all reflective of their feelings about social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“[The posts] are all completely from the students,” said Bumatay. “So whatever message that they want to convey, whatever message that they want to share based on their experiences or based on what they want to teach other people, they share that with us.”

The posts are not edited and Bumatay acknowledged that some may see the content as contentious, such as posts about abolishing the police.

“Some of the posts may read as a little contentious or a little controversial, but…we really wanted this content to come from our students,” said Bumatay. “And that’s because these are students who are directly affected by the issue.”

“I thought I had to get involved because I’m a black man living in America,” explained student contributor J.P. Mackey. He also says he hopes the biweekly posts inspire curiosity and change, especially among younger viewers.

“It’s important for young kids to learn more about this movement,” declared Mackey. “Because if they don’t learn to treat other people equally and with respect as a young kid…then prejudice might build up within them up until adulthood. And by that time, it will be really hard to teach them tolerance and things will only get worse.”

That sentiment is echoed by Dear Community’s co-creator Liliana Pacheco who says her own post-about mental healthcare will be up soon

“I really appreciate SRA for doing this,” said Pacheco. “Personally, it’s just hard to see all this happening in the world, and I know it can be draining. I think it’s really important for institutions and organizations to address such big movements like this because a lot of people…they may be affected by it.

Dear Community content can be found on Students Rising Above’s Facebook and Instagram pages as well on the organization’s own online platform.

It’s only accepting content from SRA scholars. The project does not currently have an end date; as Bumatay and Pacheco say, the Dear Community initiative will continue as long as there is a need.

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