Community care grows from common ground.
Our 20K goal was met thanks to your support!

As we start off 2024, the year that I transition out of the directorship—a position I’ve dedicated a good portion of my career to—I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my own leadership and the importance of what we do. I’ve been asking myself, what makes what we do in the SEMIS Coalition especially meaningful? Why has the work been so meaningful to me personally these past 13 years? Why has it been so meaningful to so many others?

I think that there are a lot of reasons, but at its root, I have come to believe that it is because of the collective heart space that the SEMIS Coalition gathers, protects, and amplifies so well.

The SEMIS Coalition tends to attract folks who dive into life, teaching, and leadership heart first. After all, teaching at its core is heart work—It is love work. Every day teachers have the potential to orchestrate hundreds of meaningful and life-giving connections with and for the young people they guide—connections between each other and others in the community including beings in the more-than-human world. 
A primary role that the SEMIS Coalition has played over the years is to support teachers as they grow their ability to maximize the number and power of these connections. Place-Based Educators in the SEMIS Coalition not only recognize this heart work as the primary purpose of education, and this education as the foundation on which all caring, democratic, and sustainable community stands. They embark on learning a craft that takes many years to master, each year refining their methods for connecting the subject matter they teach to students’ lives and the wellbeing of their communities. Not easy to do, and honestly impossible to do alone and without the kind of support the SEMIS Coalition provides, especially given the rigid school structures and constraints teachers often find themselves within.

Young people gather around a garden in a neighborhood with an educator.

Last year as a part of one of our Outdoor Learning projects we partnered with Birwood House and the Four Seasons Garden, right across from Noble Elementary-Middle School in Detroit. Our amazing young leaders from the Community Lens after school program dove into outdoor learning headfirst! 🌻 From planting trees 🌳 to presenting at the SEMIS Coalition Community Forum and crafting an accessible picnic table, their impact has been remarkable.

In honor of this work, we want to thank our friends, family, colleagues, and partners for the many kinds of support you’ve provided the SEMIS Coalition this past year and over the many years I’ve been director. Your support has deeply impacted tens of thousands of young people and hundreds upon hundreds of teachers. 

I especially want to thank all those who made a donation to our 2023 Year End Campaign. Your gifts are critically important to sustaining and deepening what we do.

20K GOAL MET! Our 2023 Sustainers Stream Year End Campaign tracker. New monthly gifts matched for 14 months!

Sustainers Stream – 2023 Year End Match Campaign. We met our $20,000 goal!! Thanks to our Match Funding Pool, all active pledges MATCHED FOR 14 MONTHS! We’re so grateful to everyone who made this possible.

We had 22 new Sustainers come on during our campaign in November and December, which increased the number of people in our Sustainers Stream by 183%! We also received 41 one-time gifts from caring donors. A BIG thank you to our 9 Match Donors, who will be matching all the one-time gifts we received AND active Sustainers Stream Pledges (as of 12/31/23) for the next 14 months! We’re thrilled to be able to count on this consistent support in 2024 and beyond.

A circular graphic that has the SEMIS Coalition logo at the top in blue and green, with 2023 Year End Match Campaign Donors below that. All of our monthly and one-time donors, as well as Match Pool Donors are listed below. At the bottom it says "Friends of the SEMIS Coalition - Sustaimers Stream with an eagle in the sky, a deer, fish and kids in the background.

Thank you 2023 Friends of the SEMIS Coalition — Sustainers Stream Donors!

A shout-out to our 2023 Sustainer Stream Match Donors: Anonymous, David and Carol Clifford, Jeannine Palms, Katie and Bill Robertson, Justin Scott, Lute Smith and Family, John and Marcia Lowenstein, Roger Lowenstein and Barbara Corday, and Zingerman’s Communities of Businesses. Thank you for making the $20,000 match possible!

To everyone who donated, your support has enabled us to create a rare island of hope for what education and community can be one that holds real possibilities for change in a world that sometimes seems short on possibility, and where the challenges our young people face can seem daunting. Sometime in the spring of 2024, I look forward to introducing you to a wonderful new director of the SEMIS Coalition, one who will bring their own gifts and heart to our community at a time in history when much hangs in the balance.

There is much work to be done. 
With much love and appreciation, and many blessings for a new year filled with peace,

Ethan Lowenstein, PhD 

And the SEMIS Coalition Team:
Lisa Voelker, Laura Florence, Nigora Erkaeva PhD, Sarah Halson, Paula Sizemore, Willie King III, and Amy Clarice


Please enjoy this short thank you video from our Assistant Director, Lisa Voelker