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UPrep and the People of Color Conference

UPrep supports a robust attendance at PoCC and SDLC each year, which support people of color as they pursue networking and leadership opportunities.

E-chieh Lin, Director of Diversity and Community

The People of Color Conference (PoCC) was developed in 1986 in Reston, Virginia for people of color in independent schools. In 2006, the National Association of Independent Schools’ board affirmed that PoCC be “designed for people of color as it relates to their roles in independent schools. Its programming should include offerings that support people of color as they pursue strategies for success and leadership. Its focus should be on providing a sanctuary and networking opportunity for people of color and allies in independent schools as we build and sustain inclusive school communities.”

Since most people of color work in minority situations in independent schools, the conference offers  them empowering spaces in which to interact with others that most closely mirror their racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as the world’s diversity. This conference exemplifies the word “equity”; it provides the racial minority in independent schools the resources that they do not often have on a day-to-day basis to develop professionally, refocus their work, and learn through an equity perspective. 

Each year, we send the maximum number of students allowed from each school (6) to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) that runs in parallel to PoCC. Our students are immersed with 1,600 students from independent schools around the nation in workshops and activities that focus on the intersection of diversity and leadership.

Each year, our students return to school having built strong relationships with other students. This year, I was touched by the relationships that our students formed with each other. They left University Prep as acquaintances and returned as supports and allies for each other and their intersection of identities. Their close-knit bonds across differences is what makes this conference so valuable.  

University Prep also financially supports the attendance of a robust number of faculty and staff each year at PoCC. This November, 16 adults attended and, as always, came back moved and strengthened by the talks they attended, the workshops they participated in, and the new understandings they have built. 

In the closing speech at the conference, which both students and adults come together to attend, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill spoke about how everything between harmony and discord is social justice, how justice is what love looks like in public, and radical hope. His speech embodied the mission and vision of PoCC and SDLC, and engaged us to think more about how we are perpetuating injustice and how we can be a part of the change. As Grace Lee Boggs states, “Transform yourself to transform the world.” Adrienne Maree Brown articulates this further by writing, “This doesn’t mean to get lost in the self, but rather to see our lives and work and relationships as a front line, a first place we can practice justice, liberation, and alignment with each other.”

Our students who went to Nashville have already begun to do the work of processing their experience at SDLC. They are formulating ideas for “bringing back” the lessons learned, which they will share with us during our annual Social Justice Day in March and during Community Time second semester. Stay tuned!

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