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Finding JOY in 2021 | Network Update

Dear Flamboyan Community,

If you’re like me, you may be asking yourself how it’s the end of 2021. Since the onset of COVID-19, time has been both fleeting and at a standstill, and I can hardly believe we are about to close out another year. At Flamboyan, 2021 has been a year of commitment and transformation. Personally, the year has been one of deep growth and change as I assumed the helm of our DC office as Executive Director. This summer, I shared that the three things on my mind as I stepped into this role were purpose, proximity, and people. As we look ahead to 2022, I want to share how we have lived out those three things, and why we are closing this year with JOY and gratitude.

When I say JOY, I mean it! This fall, we launched an inaugural round of community grantmaking through our Back to School with JOY initiative. I’m proud to share that Flamboyan invested a total of $125,000 in joyful experiences for students and families across DC. Our communities have experienced trauma of all kinds during this pandemic, and everyone is reacclimating to in-person school during a time of intense focus on learning acceleration. For us, focusing on JOY was essential to helping students, families, and educators reacclimate in fun and meaningful ways that create connection, facilitate development, and build relationships. We received so many impressive applications that we increased our initial pool of funds by $25,000. In total, we have funded 32 schools and 11 community-based organizations, which combined serve more than 21,000 students. These grants have given us proximity to the communities in which we work in new and deepened ways, and we can’t wait to share some of their stories with you soon. Keep an eye out on our website, Twitter, and Facebook for more on that, and look out for future announcements about new rounds of community grantmaking.

Additionally, we are investing in our people in important ways. In the last two months, we have welcomed eight new staff members to the Flamboyan DC Team, spanning school and district support, finance and operations, talent and culture, and external affairs. We also have several team members who have taken on new roles inside Flamboyan, so you may engage with them differently in 2022. Please take some time to get to know our team members, and learn more about them using the links below!

Aryan Bocquet

External Affairs

Ashley Sheppard

School Support

Cassandra McGraw

School Support

Gimari L. Jones

MD, Training +

Julienne Vinson

MD, Talent + Org

Ryan Lokhorst

Associate, Finance +

Sanjay Singh

Senior Director,
District Support

Tamika Smith

Senior Director,
District Support

We always say that our organization is our people, and we are thrilled to have such a talented, diverse, and strong team committed to improving outcomes for students most impacted by inequity. Given our continued commitment to ensure REAL family engage is practiced locally and nationally, we are preparing for another round of recruitments in January, so keep your eyes peeled for more announcements.

Through the transitions we experienced in 2021, I am proud that we’ve never lost sight of our purpose. Our passion for that purpose shines brightly in the equity journey we’re on as an organization. Our team has been doing deep, meaningful work this year to confront and unpack the myriad ways systemic racism, power, and white supremacy culture impacts us as individuals, our organizational operations, and how it continues to disenfranchise students and families furthest from opportunity. In addition to looking inward, we live out our commitment to racial equity through our pursuit of REAL Family Engagement, supporting teachers, school leaders, and school systems to partner authentically with families, including through deep and meaningful racial equity conversations. Holding up a mirror for ourselves and our partners is how we do this work at Flamboyan, and we remain committed to keeping equity at the center of all we do. Look for more on this in the new year and beyond.

At Flamboyan, in our fierce pursuit of sustainable impact and catalytic action, must often remind ourselves to rest. Our work to ensure equitable outcomes for students and families is a marathon, not a sprint, and we encourage our folks to recharge and “fill their cup” so that they can continue bringing their whole and bravest selves to this critical work. We all face and will continue to face challenges during this pandemic, which is why we believe finding JOY and gratitude is essential to sustaining ourselves. As we say goodbye to 2021, I hope you also find time for rest, for JOY, and for filling your cup, whatever that means to you. We are grateful for your partnership, and we look forward to working with you in 2022!


Patience B. Peabody
Executive Director, DC