Did you know that Be The Change was almost seen on Shark Tank? With all that has happened this past year with COVID, protests, and politics, we knew it was the time to get our story out there and our mission supported. And in 2021, what better way to get the word out than to submit to be on Shark Tank?
While the content was serious, we enjoyed documenting our story to the ‘Sharks’. Suffice to say we did not meet our 15 minutes of fame, but we are still going strong and committed to being the change we want to see in the world!
So here it is, our brief, yet riveting almost-appearance on Shark Tank. Hey Mark Cuban if you are reading this blog, we would love for you to spark the change in 2022!
Sangita… Not Sangula
When Sangita Kumar, founder and CEO of Be the Change was in fourth grade, she wanted some of the kids from her class to come over for a playdate. Unfortunately, they never made it there because they never learned her name. She had a lot of conversations that went like this:
Sangita: Hi! My name is Sangita.
Other child: Sangula?
Sangita: No, Sangita.
Other child: Sangina?
Sangita: No, Sangita!
Other child: Oh, I know! How about this? I’ll call you Sunny!
Sangita: What? No! My name is not Sunny. My name is Sangita!
The worst part is that the teachers around her didn’t intervene. If Sangita’s teacher had had access to a culturally responsive curriculum, her students would have started the year playing Group Juggle, Community Cheer, Pieces of Me, or one of the hundreds of activities that teach young people to learn names and build community. But unfortunately, the teacher didn’t have these activities, so instead, Sangita spent most of fourth grade being teased, “Sunny, Sunny Delights!”
Names are important. If you know Sangita’s name, you’ll understand her nose ring. You’ll understand the food that’s in her lunchbox. And you’ll understand why you take your shoes off when you come over to her house.
Because of her childhood experiences, Sangita became committed to building a more inclusive world, one where kids and adults alike would respect each other’s cultures and experiences. She ultimately used that commitment to create much-needed social-emotional learning curriculums for grades 3-12 and start Be the Change Consulting.
A Missed Opportunity to Teach About Racial Injustice and Allyship
Tanya Mayo, a proud mother of four school-aged children and co-owner and COO of Be the Change, had another experience showing the need for new culturally responsive curriculum resources last year.
During a classroom assignment, Tanya’s son’s teacher asked the students to stand for the pledge of allegiance as part of a vocabulary activity. Inspired by Colin Kaepernick, Tanya’s son took a knee in silent protest. But when none of his peers joined, he was embarrassed and alone.
Sadly, Kekoa’s teacher missed this teachable moment to highlight how Black boys in America experience racial injustice and how other students could have been an ally to him. She, like many other well-intentioned teachers, didn’t have the training, the resources, or the curriculum to handle these moments.
The Lack of DEI Education Isn’t a New Problem
The need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) education is not new. In 1963, in a racially divided country, the news that John F. Kennedy was shot while riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas rippled across America. The images are forever seared in the psyche of anyone old enough to remember.
The JFK moment of our generation is undoubtedly the eight minutes and 46 seconds captured on a bystander’s cell phone of the killing of George Floyd. If we act decisively, this moment has the possibility to be a turning point in America.
But teachers need resources and curriculum to meet this moment. They just can’t do it alone!
The Beginning of Be the Change
Sangita was once that teacher trying to make it work without resources. She remembers trying to figure it out alone, well-intentioned, overworked, underpaid, and desperate to find lessons to help her students share their stories, engage in problem-solving, and stand up for their beliefs. She looked and she looked, but it just wasn’t out there.
So she wrote her own lesson. Then she wrote another, and then another. Then the teachers down the hall started asking her for copies of her lessons, and she knew that she was onto something. That’s when Be the Change was born.
Our business is a training and curriculum development company that has been centered in educational equity for over a decade now. Our curriculums are used in schools and youth development programs nationally. We help children explore identity, build community, and cultivate a sense of justice and equity to create engaged citizens of the world.
Be the Change now has over a thousand lessons to build community, teach diversity, and develop a growth mindset, which is essential for workplace success. Each lesson is packaged in easy-to-read workbooks and activity card boxes to make teaching as easy as possible.
A Youth Development Curriculum For Our Current Moment
Be the Change’s tools are more relevant today than they have ever been. In the fall, students who have been isolated through Zoom school, many of them struggling with depression and social anxiety, will return to classrooms in deep need of community building. Teachers are going to need easy-to-use social-emotional learning and culturally responsive equity education curriculum to help their students reconnect and make sense of all the recent events.
Be the Change is poised to help at this moment. We’re now going digital so we can meet even more teachers’ needs. Some of our training and workshops are already virtual, and we’re adding even more web-based options which will be available soon.
So, who wants to stand on the right side of history with us? Check out our curriculum resources to get started!