Local organization races against time to raise funds to teach kids about sustainability, diversity

ST. GEORGE — DiversiTeach, a program striving to educate local communities about the importance of sustainability and diversity, is reaching out for the public’s help. 

Children complete crafts during a DiversiTeach at the Downtown Farmers Market, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Pace, St. George News

The Southern Utah grassroots organization, founded to create meaningful, hands-on educational experiences based on celebrating diversity, promoting sustainability and fostering community, is asking the public for donations after its founder and director told St. George News they have only enough available funds to support two more events.

Jaclyn Pace founded the organization after moving from New York to Utah. Pace is certified through the state and through the American Montessori Society to teach students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Before working with children, Pace studied what communities need to thrive while getting her master’s degree. During her research, she discovered that education was extremely important for a sustainable community, especially education related to diversity and social justice.

Pace said that growing up in New York, she didn’t know anyone grew up with a lack of diverse representation until she moved to Utah. In fact, she said, in other areas, there is a growing need for education on accepting people for their differences.

To help provide a resource for Southern Utah residents, Pace founded DiversiTeach earlier this year. DiversiTeach hosts educational programs that are open to everyone, but primarily focus on youth in the area. Oftentimes, she said, people believe that diversity education isn’t important because of a perceived lack of diversity in an area.

Children complete crafts during a DiversiTeach at the Downtown Farmers Market, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Pace, St. George News

“I think diversity is often overlooked as something that just has to do with race,” she said. “Diversity has to do with so many different things.”

Diversity is present in every group or subculture, Pace said. If diversity did not exist within an area, there would be large gaps in the community because a functioning society requires people with different perspectives and experiences.

DiversiTeach was able to host events by partnering with local farmer’s markets, starting with the Downtown Farmers Market in Ancestor Square every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

The farmers market has invited them to return once the season opens at the West Village location, but DiversiTeach only has enough funds for two more events, which are scheduled on Jan. 8 and 15. The Dinosaur Discovery Site is sponsoring the organization’s final holiday events in January.

“We’re hoping to secure grants in the future, but that’s a long process,” she said. “We’re hoping to find something to get us going now so that we can be working on the grants.”

Children complete crafts during a DiversiTeach at the Downtown Farmers Market, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Pace, St. George News

DiversiTeach’s events largely focus on diversity and sustainability while recycling and upcycling materials into environmentally friendly and economically sound projects. While there is a large culturally diverse aspect to each event, children are also taught about the impact of waste, the importance of reusing and recycling materials, and what materials are recyclable.

In prior events, DiversiTeach event organizers have taught children about the history behind Hanukkah. During the event, children were taught how to make dreidels out of egg cartons and how to play the dreidel game.

Pace said a large portion of their funding concerns stem from how new and fairly small the organization is compared to other entities in the area.

Although DiversiTeach could raise quite a bit of money by charging admission to the events, she said, it is important that the events are accessible to the public. Having each event be free of charge greatly increases the pool of potential participants. At the moment, DiversiTeach organizers do ask for a $2 donation at events to cover supplies.

“We don’t want to have to charge people for it because we feel that it’s something really important for the community to have access to for free, and we don’t want income or lack of funds to be an issue,” she said. “We also want people who maybe aren’t attracted to the idea of diversity or sustainability to still maybe stumble upon it and be exposed.”

Children complete crafts during a DiversiTeach at the Downtown Farmers Market, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Pace, St. George News

For now, Pace said, DiversiTeach needs to raise $7,500 in order to fund events throughout the year at the farmers market’s West Village location. The total includes art supplies and educational materials, print and digital marketing, curriculum writing, and staffing for weekly activities. 

Although she hopes the program will expand in the coming years, Pace said the organization is taking the time to focus on ensuring they can provide the community with one event each week in 2020.

If DiversiTeach can raise the necessary funds, the events will be each Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. during the farmer’s markets in West Village at 214 N. 1000 East in St. George. Event schedules and announcements are posted to the organization’s Facebook page.

Residents who are interested in sponsoring or collaborating with DiversiTeach can contact the organization at 435-200-3260 or via email at diversi.teach@gmail.com. Art supply donations are always needed and volunteers are also welcome to contact DiversiTeach for more information.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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