2023 Grants Challenge

Harambee Power Talk

Harambee Power Talk is a program dedicated to conversations with students around topics that are meant to challenge unhealthy belief systems and thought patterns. Through focused, in-class intervention techniques, we empower students to achieve scholastic success, develop good character, and inspire leadership by addressing the social-emotional needs of our students from a culturally relevant perspective.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

San Gabriel Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Los Angeles has the largest school police department in the nation. Traditionally handled by school staff, tantrums, skipping class, having markers or nail clippers, smoking, fighting, and other "disruptions" are now crimes drawing handcuffs, suspensions, expulsions, and arrests. For many youth, truancy tickets lead to "at-risk" profiling into the pipeline. Nationwide, African-American students are disproportionately represented in the school-to-prison pipeline and are 3.5 times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended or expelled, landing them in alternative schools, with punitive measures. Recent studies indicate that girls of color are the fastest-growing population in the pipeline. Power Talk disrupts the school-to-prison pipeline by offering critical intervention practices in under-resourced schools that build youth confidence; challenge unhealthy behaviors; and allow youth to believe in their full potential.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Harambee Ministries is a youth development organization serving young people both in the classroom and during out-of-school time. Our intervention program, "Power Talk", is designed to challenge unhealthy belief systems and values in elementary and middle school students. Harambee offers Power Talk at 3 schools during the school day. Students are referred to this program based on their probability of suspension. During the hour-long class, we discuss the growth mindset, the power of affirmations and empathy, and leadership principles that prepare young people for real-world scenarios. Elementary classes are focused on preparing at-risk students to develop security in their identity that teaches them to make decisions that repel negative outside influences; at middle school level, our focus is on intervention. Over the 10-week curriculum, the following subjects are covered- Elementary Power Talk: Power of Gratitude Power of Courage I Am Not My Thoughts Fresh Perspective Growth Mindset Love Dream & Imagine Empathy Storytelling Affirmations Middle School Power Talk Honor Everybody Got Choices Courage Now Vs. Then Abundance Gun Violence 13th Amendment The Power of A Coach Grief Coping Power of Listening Investing in the Real World Power of Affirmation Well-poised to expand our efforts and build on existing school district agreements, Harambee Ministries' next goal with Power Talk is to bring the program to alternative schools, serving whole classrooms of system-impacted youth.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Power Talk will not only change student mindset so that students believe in themselves and in their futures; it will change the way educators see positive intervention strategies and partnerships between schools and external organizations like Harambee. Power Talk will ensure that our most vulnerable students have a chance at success, not a likelihood of becoming another statistic. Expanding to more schools will allow us to have greater impact throughout Los Angeles as we identify places where students need us the most. Against the backdrop of principles such as the Committee for a Greater LA's No Going Back report, Power Talk addresses anti-Black racism in all its forms; builds an economy that prioritizes those who have been left or kept behind; supports education access for all children & all communities; celebrates & supports youth leadership & empowerment; builds community power & new metrics of success; and aligns business, community, philanthropy, & government for equity.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Harambee's program goals include: (1) positive student outcomes in academic success and school engagement; (2) young people gain confidence through skills attainment, self-esteem building activities and validated self-expression; and (3) communities are empowered as youth are empowered. Harambee's use of evidence-based practices have produced exceptional outcomes. Power Talk is evaluated using pre and post program assessments. Assessment results from the 2021-22 school year indicate that 61.3% of students reported feeling more prepared to pursue their dreams; 65% of students reported an increase in their self-confidence; 56% of participants reported an increase in their self-love; and 69% of participants reported that they work harder in school after Power Talk. Harambee also collects statistical information, including members' gender, ethnicity age, and program participation and employs non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs, such as interviews and roundtables.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 100

Indirect Impact: 250