Every Hand Joined
Every Hand Joined is a StriveTogether community, a nationwide network of communities that seeks to allow every child the opportunity to thrive, from cradle to career. One of the tools that StriveTogether uses to measure partnership improvement is its Theory of Action. The end goal in the Theory of Action is Proof Point, and to get there, and organization must pass through a gateway called Systems Change, essentially a positive shift in the mindset of how the community addresses issues related to its youth. Every Hand Joined’s goals center around systemic change, and I was able to see and be involved in that daily in the work we were doing, from being involved in equity discussions, to learning about how Every Hand Joined and initiatives like it are mobilizing state legislature to provide funding for community and school outreach organizations.
I learned a lot both about myself and about nonprofits in general throughout this experience, most notably by asking to chat with both members of Every Hand Joined and those who work closely with them. One of the most valuable things I will take away is the importance of being able to work with people of all different personalities to keep a productive and non-hostile environment. With sensitive issues, this is essential for carrying out Every Hand Joined’s work. I was impressed by how well the backbone staff is able to do this.
I started the summer helping a lot with the summer lunch program, which served over 8,000 meals to kids under 18. That was a very humbling experience, especially seeing first and second graders as the leaders of their households, forced to take care of their younger brothers and sisters while their parents were at work and not able to afford adequate childcare. I also sat in and offered input on each of the five network meetings that meet once a month to plan and carry out action items. The network I worked most with was math, and over the course of the summer we reviewed and rewrote games and assessments for the early numeracy kits that Every Hand Joined put together and will eventually be in the hands of 700 three and four-year-olds. But my primary task was collecting and analyzing data to assist with what is called the scoping process to form a new reading network. We held several meetings to discuss and narrow the scope of the future network, and by the end of my ten weeks, we were ready to present an argument to the partner table as to why a reading network should be formed. I am going back towards the end of August to be a part of this presentation.