Tumaini in Swahili means “hope”. The D.C. based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization has described itself as a “culturally responsive & evidence-based social and emotional learning curriculum”. Its activities have spread hope and action, prioritizing social justice among youths and giving high school students the tools to thrive in and out of the classroom.
The organisation argued that more than 60% of youths age 17 and younger have been exposed to crime, violence, and abuse either directly or indirectly; also, across U.S., schools suspend 2.7 million students per academic year; and 21% of high school students miss more than 15 days of school per year.
“Because of these, we take into account all the things a student need to learn and grow, even if those things reach outside the traditional roles of a school. We are the only curriculum that combines mindfulness, restorative practices, parent engagement, civic engagement, and social justice into a comprehensive resource,” said Portia Richardson, founder of Tumaini DC to TheAfricanDream.net in a conversation.
“Our multi-generational approach to social and emotional learning has shown the power to reduce disparities in our education system, while creating stronger and more resilient families and communities”.
The nonprofit Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum called the “Tumaini Way” comprises of 25 interactive lessons. They have been designed to provide middle and high school students with tools to excel in college, career, and in life. The motive behind this is for them to positively impact themselves and their communities by challenging systems of oppression and injustice.
“Tumaini DC provided me with the opportunities that I would have never had. They took me on my first plane ride to Florida and gave me the tools to manage my emotions and handle uncomfortable situations. Tumaini feels like home and I love it here,” said Bobby Hollins, a fellow at the Tumaini 2022 Innovation Academy.
Tumaini’s curriculum cultivates engagement in the classroom and in students’ communities through interactive activities, visual presentations, shared learning group discussions called “Circle Up”, and the development of solution prototypes to social issues.
The organisation’s mindfulness exercises (“Mindful Moments”) and journal reflections (“Think in Ink”), provide students with opportunities to explore their sense of awareness and development of their Collaborative for Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) competencies.
“Tumaini DC gave me a second chance at life when I wanted to give up. This organization taught me how to make better decisions, control my attitude, build better relationships, and get involved in my community. Years later, I am still connected to my Tumaini mentor, who has helped me define and pursue my personal and professional goals,” said Janae Bailey, Tumaini SEL Academy participant.
Since its inception in 2013, Tumaini DC has impacted 10,000+ students in the U.S., 2500+ students in Ghana, and have trained over 25,000+ educators and youth-serving professionals.
At the height of the COVID lockdown when schools shifted to virtual learning, Tumaini DC provided 100+ students with Chromebooks and HyperX headsets through its partnership with The Hustler’s Guild, Inc.
It also provided virtual and in-person social and emotional learning, trauma-informed care, restorative practices, and team building professional development opportunities to over 10,000 teachers, administrators, and district leaders during the 2021-2022 school year.
Tumaini DC combined SEL + entrepreneurship to provide an opportunity for students to turn their ideas into sustainable business plans. Through its partnership with the Grant Cardone Foundation, it was able to take 30 students to Aventura, Florida to pitch millionaire investors and senior executives and won over $25,000 in funding to start their businesses, creating pathways to generational wealth and breaking the cycle of poverty.
The nonprofit also partnered with celebrity guests to facilitate virtual SEL and entrepreneurship workshops for students in low income communities. As part of this partnership, 30+ schools and community-based organizations were engaged to provide social and emotional learning programmes.
Portia Richardson is a native of Southeast, Washington, DC. As the Executive Director and Founder of Tumaini DC, Inc, she has transformed communities and schools through culturally responsive, trauma informed and healing centered Social and Emotional Learning curricula and programming.
As a former educator with 10 years of experience in DC public and charter schools, Portia has witnessed the gaps in the education system and community firsthand and has committed herself to bridging these gaps.
Portia is also the owner of Sky Zone Trampoline Park, a Teach for America alumni, and founder of the Impact Institute Accelerator that helps IMPACTpreneurs turn their purpose into profit and impact into income.
Since 2015, Portia has helped over 2500 clients nationwide and has a remarkable success rate for helping individuals form sustainable non-profits and purpose-driven businesses since 2015. Her annual goal is to help 100 more IMPACTpreneurs turn their purpose into profits and their impact into income.
Portia is a highly sought after speaker and has spoken to audiences of over 20,000 people. She is the published author of 14 Amazon books, including The Tumaini Way Social and Emotional Learning curriculum and a collection of culturally responsive social and emotional learning-abased children’s books.
She started her post-educational career at North Carolina A&T State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and later earned a Master of Science degree in Public Policy from Drexel University and a second Master of Science degree in Special Education from George Mason University.
In her spare time, Portia enjoys traveling and immersing herself into other cultures, spending time with her husband & children, and attending cultural festivals.