Upper Arlington students are on a mission to create a community where everyone feels welcome and safe, just like Pleasant Litchford did over 150 years ago.
Upper Arlington Education Foundation Announces a new endowment fund to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Upper Arlington Schools.
The Upper Arlington Education Foundation, with the support of Equal Upper Arlington, is honored to announce a newly established endowment fund to honor Pleasant Litchford.
Mr. Litchford was an African-American, master blacksmith who had been enslaved in Virginia. After buying his own freedom sometime before 1842, he settled in Perry Township, the area that is now Upper Arlington. He built a successful business and purchased the land that is now home to the high school as well as Northam Park and Tremont Elementary School. Among his many contributions to the area were establishing a school for African American children and being a founding member of the historic Second Baptist Church, which provided an important voice in the anti-slavery movement. Mr. Litchford died in 1879 at the age of 89.
The Upper Arlington Education Foundation provides resources to support the mission and goals of the school district.
“Creating this UA+Ed fund will further our shared mission to create a welcoming community and nurture a sense of belonging. Students and staff in our schools will have additional resources for programs that embrace differences that make us unique,” Michelle Montgomery, Equal UA Board Member. “We are thankful to Pleasant Litchford’s descendents who have graciously given their permission for us to name this fund in his honor.
There were many donors who made gifts to seed this fund. Just before the end of 2020, Upper Arlington School Board member, Carol Mohr made an extremely generous donation that fully endowed this fund. The UA+Ed hopes that community members who share their commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Upper Arlington Schools will continue growing the Pleasant Litchford Fund so it can fund even more initiatives in 2021 and beyond.
“This fund couldn’t come at a better time. It is already supporting two important programs focused on diversity, equity, inclusion,” Alice Finley, UA+Ed Executive Director.
The Upper Arlington High School “Ambassadors of Change”, a group of 80 passionate students and the first to receive a grant from the Pleasant Litchford Fund, are inspired to build a connected community where everyone is embraced for their unique differences. Four professional storytellers and social activists, Lyn Ford, Tripp Fontane, Erin O’Neill, and Donte Woods-Spikes, are mentoring these students. “There are people who do not think racism exists in Upper Arlington. These students want to craft and share their personal stories in ways that will allow them to be heard and empower positive change,” Trisha Fellinger, Advisor of Ambassadors of Change.
“Change Makers”, a group of 56 fourth and fifth grade students from Greensview and Windermere elementary schools, are teaming together to make our School District and community more welcoming and inclusive. Led by school counselors, this group (including students in EDL/Hybrid model and Online Academy) meet virtually each week to get to know each other and share their diverse cultural experiences. A grant from the Pleasant Litchford Fund is providing resources for these students to design masks that will share a message of belonging, and keep community members safe throughout Upper Arlington.
A history of UA+Ed funding for DEI programs in our School District
UA+Ed has given many grants over the years that have provided authentic learning experiences of the history of injustices in our country and the world. Between 2012 and 2013 Jones and Hastings Middle Schools brought Eva Kor, a Holocaust surviver, to speak to students about forgiveness of injustices and Ruby Bridges the first African American student integrated into an all-white school in 1960.
In support of teachers and staff, UA+Ed partnered with the school district in 2019 to fund books for SEED - Seeking Equity and Equality for Students, a staff book club initiated by two teachers, Warren Orloff and Star Simpson.