Our People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE) has been “popping up” in unexpected places lately! Through the new PACE Pop-Up model, a condensed version of the program’s civics training is being made available throughout the city. PACE Pop-Ups were developed to expand access by creating a portable and free version of the training that could be brought directly to communities. It has proven to be an ideal option for residents from under-represented communities that might encounter barriers to attending the full PACE program.
The pop-ups typically happen in collaboration with other community organizations or neighborhoods. They have been hosted at neighborhood events in Little Brook and Delridge, as well as in partnership with Capitol Hill Housing, Seattle Teen Summit, Redmond Middle School, and the Seattle Youth Commission.
The most recent collaboration was with the Seattle Public Library (SPL). SPL’s Adult Basic Education Program Manager Meira Jough had heard about PACE and thought it would be a great fit for the Library’s English Learning classes. She reached out to PACE Coordinator Hilary Nichols who began building a curriculum catered to English learners and new residents. In May, PACE Pop-Ups took place in three of SPL’s English Language classes at the Central, Beacon Hill, and Northgate Libraries. The classes proved to be an excellent venue for civic education as many of the students were new to America or Seattle and came from communities traditionally under-represented in the civic process.
We recently dropped in on the PACE Pop-Up in the Beginner English Class at the Central Branch Library and met an incredibly diverse and inter-generational group of residents. In two hours, they were introduced to the basic vocabulary of civic engagement, the structure of city government, and the role that government plays in their lives. They also participated in activities that allowed them to practice using their voice to engage with local government.