A year to speak about
December 17, 2018 by Olivia Harris
2018 has been a monumental year for Speak About It and a monumental year for the national conversation about sex and consent. Olivia looks back on her first six months as Executive Director with a year-end update on where we've been and where we're going.
I stepped up as Executive Director of Speak About It 6 months ago. I want to thank all of our school and community partners, supporters, Educators, and friends who have reached out to share warmth and insight with me these past few months. I look forward to seeing you at some of our exciting events coming up in 2019! Until then, if you want to learn more about me, read here, watch here, or you can always Google me and try to figure out which Olivia Harris I am.*
I joined a fantastic team, and we have been busy! This year, we’ve performed at over 55 schools, reaching more than 50,000 students - and our spring is getting full with performances and programs! With your help, we won a grant from Shared Nation to bring our programs to 5 Maine high schools free of charge. Just 3 weeks ago, we had our most successful Giving Tuesday EVER, thanks to our amazing supporters. Thanks to all of you who gave!
As we head into the final days of 2018, we need some extra momentum to meet our year-end fundraising goal. This goal will empower us to grow our programs in the new year. There is so much fear, confusion, and anger in the national conversation about sex, consent, and sexuality right now. As part of the solution, Speak About It is working to create a culture of consent that is happy, healthy, and pleasurable. New schools are reaching out every week to learn how to bring us to their campuses, and we want to be able to better accommodate those that cannot afford our programs. Help us meet that goal with a gift, and your generosity will be turned into consent education for students who need and want it!
I want to take a moment as we reach the end of the calendar year to give you a sense of where Speak About It is headed and how we’re building on the strong work that we’re known for in intentional and sustainable ways. I envision...
- Multiple engagements a year. Hot take: No one becomes a relationship expert overnight. It takes time and practice. CDC research shows that students need comprehensive engagement multiple times a year to build their communication skills and deepen their understanding of gender, power, consent and healthy relationships. We are developing year-round programs to expand our work with colleges and universities. Creating a culture of consent is a community endeavor, and Speak About It is part of a matrix of support and response that cannot be just once a year.
- Expanded programming & Educator training. Over the past 8 years, Speak About It has developed a number of fantastic programs beyond our flagship performance. We have parent programs, student athlete trainings, and partying safer workshops, to name a few. I am excited to infuse these existing programs with my interactive theatre techniques and expertise to deepen our approach and engage diverse audiences in consent conversations. These theatre infused programs are like the fancy seltzer water of consent education!** I created a menu of these programs - and schools are interested! This means that we need to train our Educators to deliver the curricula because Oronde can only be in so many places at once.
- High school shows. We will continue to expand to even more high schools, answering the call we hear from college students all the time: “I wish I had seen Speak About It when I was in high school.” Many schools cannot afford the fee we charge in order to fulfill our commitment to paying our Educators a fair wage for their work. Therefore, we are ramping up our fundraising to cover this expansion, so we don’t have to choose between equitable pay and effective outreach programming.
- Visibility in the media. As national attention on assault and violence prevention increases, we will lend our decade of experience and expertise to further the conversation. We look forward to being a thought leader on this issue, bringing our intersectional and fun lens to the conversation. Check out the Huffington Post, Talk Space, and the Portland Press Herald (here and here) to see how we’re doing so far!
Sounds like a good starting place, huh?
I’d love to hear your questions and ideas too! The enthusiasm and passion of you, Speak About It’s supporters and cheerleaders, inspires me every day, and I am very thankful to be a part of this team!
So let’s speak about it together in the New Year!
* 3rd one.
** I have been told that seltzer is not fancy, but I heartily disagree and am happy to provide an annotated bibliography with my supporting materials.
Speak About It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with high schools and colleges to educate, entertain, and empower students to create positive change within their communities, advocate for and practice healthy relationship habits, and prevent sexual violence.
Copyright 2016 Speak About It, Inc. Website by Alexandra Valleau