In 2015, The Berkeley School was nominated to join an international network of changemaker organizations called Ashoka. A rigorous interview process led to our confirmation, and in June 2016, our school joined the Changemaker Schools Network. In doing so, we engaged with a global community of leading elementary, middle and high schools that prioritize empathy, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and changemaking as student outcomes.

Ashoka defines “changemakers” as people and organizations who have both the will and the skill to make positive change, and who put empathy in action for the good of all. Being a changemaker is central to our vision – to create citizens of the world – and aligned with our mission to ignite curious minds, awaken generous hearts, and engage a changing world.

The student Ashoka Leadership Team meets weekly to direct changemaking initiatives that are schoolwide and action-oriented. This year, the students are thinking of ways they can make an impact on homelessness in our community. The older team (made up of 16 5th-8th graders) have spent their time together learning to advocate for homeless communities struggling to get their trash picked up. They’re preparing to join TBS administrators, who, earlier this year, started their support of the Sea Breeze encampment (near the Berkeley marina down the road from us) with trash pick-ups and meal drop-offs. The students’ goal this year is to bring greater awareness to the issue of homelessness in Berkeley and to show the humanity of the people directly affected by it.

Team members met with with several advocates and city officials including District 2 Councilmember Cheryl Davila (pictured above) to learn how they can partner with her to support the Sea Breeze encampment.

Our Ashoka Jr. team (made up of 17 K-2nd graders and facilitated by 3 middle schoolers) has launched a can and bottle drive to fundraise for the folks living at the Sea Breeze encampment as well as for the People’s Breakfast Oakland. After some Ashoka Jr. members visited the local recycling center with their class, they noticed that recycled items yield money and got the idea to bring in cans and bottles to raise money.

Thank you for supporting Ashoka’s efforts to improve the lives of those living in homelessness!