We All Rise: African American Resource Center Inc. is a non-profit organization in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We are a culturally specific, holistic healing agency that exists to serve the most marginalized population in Wisconsin, the African American community. We provide mental health and crisis services including our 24-hour crisis line. Our mental health services include both individual and group sessions. We are able to offer therapy services to individuals (adolescents, teens, and adults), couples, and families. Clients come in with any needs they may have and we will partner with them to find solutions and work toward healing (housing, transportation, job searching and skills, safety, education, clothing, advocacy, etc.).
Our work started back in 2017 when our current Executive Director, Robin Tinnon, learned that less than 1% of our youth were enrolled in after school programming. She began designing a curriculum understanding that there was a unique need to increase protective factors around our black youth/families between the school and community. This led her to begin establishing a safe and unapologetic space where our black youth could learn their history, increase their self-advocacy, and become more positive participants in healthy relationships.
While running her 28-week curriculum, she quickly learned that in order to fully support the youth, we need to support the family unit as a whole. We All Rise was born into existence shortly after. We secured our nonprofit status in 2018 and opened our brick and mortar resource center in 2019 due to funding from VOCA (US Department of Justice, Victims of Crime Act). After a full year of our resource center being open to the public, we have served well over 800 individuals and families (including over 150 youth in programming).
Our first year was nothing like we thought it would be. We found ourselves in the midst of not only a global pandemic but also a national uprising. At the beginning of March, we began a systemic shutdown to lessen the impact of the virus known as COVID-19. The staff at We All Rise came together to have some very serious discussions believing that black folks (our focus population) would be disproportionately affected by the virus due to reasons such as inadequate housing (more likely to be living with multiple generations, or apartment living), lack of private transportation (more likely to use public transportation, and less likely to receive equitable car loans), inequities in health care (racism, historical erasure, discrimination, poverty, etc...), and underlying health conditions (hypertension, diabetes, heart disease).
The reality for our agency was that our clients had already told us that the reason why they had not sought the crisis and emergency services they needed to holistically heal previously was for reasons such as racism, historical trauma, conflicting cultural beliefs, and representation. As a staff, we recognized that we had a duty even more so by being a new safe haven for our clients to trust in the CDC's recommendations but also to self-determine that we are an essential agency. In addition to serving over 800 individuals during a global pandemic with the help of local emergency relief funds, businesses, and individual donors, and most importantly a deep trust to serve our people, we were able to make the following happen: secure long-term housing for over 150 of our clients and families, secure emergency housing for over 115 of our clients and families, and we provided over 300 therapy appointments last year alone and growing.
We continue to evaluate and adapt not only our work but also our organization and its impact on our clients and community. This has led to our organization changing its physical location last year, moving to a space where we could serve our growing caseloads with integrity, confidentiality, and dignity. Another big learning we had over the last year was the need for additional black male support for our clientele. Thanks to our partners at Wisconsin State - Department of Children and Families (DCF); we are able to add two more incredible male advocates to the We All Rise team. This will allow us to create programming, groups, and other support specific to black male healing.