A Call to Action: Together, We Can Make Homeschooling Better
By HA Community Coordinator R.L. Stollar
Every day on Homeschoolers Anonymous, we are hearing about how appearances can be deceiving — how heartbreaking abuse happens all around us, and can hide even in the families of homeschool leaders. We read Mary’s story, our blood boiling in horror that a respected family could inflict such emotional and physical abuse upon its children. We read about people like Susie, who were left on the side of the road with a few dollars in their hand because their parents were unwilling to love them for who they are. We read with shock that Jennifer‘s family would go so far as to threaten to kill her pets and remove all her belongings just to get her to obey an ideology.
We read these stories with heavy hearts.
Yet we also read with hope and amazement that there are so many of us willing to join together and create a network of love and support for people like this. When we announced that Jennifer needed assistance, there was an overwhelming outpouring of it. When we put out a call for stories on any number of topics, there is no shortage of people willing to speak up, to make their voices heard. There clearly is a need here, and there are many who want to help.
This makes us excited about what 2013-2014 has in store for Homeschoolers Anonymous.
We started Homeschoolers Anonymous on March 16, 2013. It is a cooperative project by former homeschoolers interested in sharing our experiences growing up in the conservative, Christian homeschooling subculture. Our mission is to make homeschooling better for future generations through awareness, community building, and healing.
Today, we are four months old. In four short months, we have accrued over 400,000 views on our blog. We’ve had the privilege of being a part of some amazing things.
We launched #HSLDAMustAct, lobbying HSLDA to create a public awareness campaign to combat child abuse. We helped Hännah Ettinger at Wine & Marble raise over $10,000 for a young woman rescued from an abusive family environment. Our awareness series have addressed some big issues, including LGBT experiences and struggles with self-injury.
Together, we are making a difference. We are changing lives.
Today I am excited to announce that Homeschoolers Anonymous is expanding to become a non-profit organization called HARO — Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out.
To this end, our goal is to raise $100,000 over the next 60 days. We will be utilizing the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo to move HARO into official 501c(3) status and put into motion several concrete action plans.
What does this mean?
Crowd-funding means that we need you, the members of this community, to help us achieve our fundraising goals.
We need you to donate — once, twice, or however many times you can in the next two months. But whether you donate or not, we need you to share this call for help with your friends and family. We need you to talk it up on Facebook and Twitter and your favorite social media sites.
Creating a 501c(3) means that HARO will be a real, live non-profit. We will have tax exempt status, and (when the IRS approves it), donations to HARO will be tax-deductible. (Note: HARO is not currently a non-profit and donations to this campaign are unfortunately not tax deductible.)
We are proud to unveil some highlights from our future projects:
Homeschoolers Anonymous website
The Homeschoolers Anonymous website will get a professional makeover, greatly improving its internal structure and usability. We also plan to set up a forum with dedicated moderators.
Annual HARO Convention
This wouldn’t be a homeschool-related organization if we didn’t plan a convention, would it? In all seriousness, the internet is a wonderful tool for disseminating information, but in-person community and engagement is important as well. To this end, we will develop an annual HARO convention to begin in 2014.
The Mary Project:
Named in honor of the pseudonymous author of our most popular series, the Mary Project will undertake a public awareness campaign to fight child abuse in homeschooling communities — the campaign that we asked HSLDA to undertake and that HSLDA ignored.
Broken Arrows Initiative:
The Broken Arrows Initiative will create a tangible and concrete support system for homeschool graduates in need, as well as lifelines for current homeschool students in unhealthy situations. Physical, legal, and financial assistance are all included in this initiative.
R.A.H.A.B.: Research Alliance for Homeschooling Attitudes and Beliefs
Concrete data is important when you’re working with any demographic, and homeschoolers are no exception. Data helps us determine where we can do the most good and evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts. R.A.H.A.B. will be the arm of HARO that researches and documents data pertaining to the homeschooling movement.
For more detailed information regarding each of these projects, click here.
What if you don’t hit your fundraising goal within 60 days?
Indiegogo’s “flex-funding” campaign model means that, unlike Kickstarter, it’s not all or nothing. If we don’t make our goal, we keep what we raised, minus a 9% fee to Indiegogo. However, if we make our goal, that fee goes down to 4%! While we plan on achieving our goal, we will work with whatever the results are. We will start with what we have and go from there, focusing on buildling a secure, stable infrastructure, filing paperwork to be legally recognized as a 501(c)(3), and pursuing grants to round out project funding and offering assistance to those in need.
Who are the founding board members of HARO?
The four founding board members of HARO were chosen based on several criteria, not the least of which is that they have the trust and respect of many members of the communities we are building online. HARO board members not only need to have skill sets applicable to founding a non-profit, but also have demonstrated that they are invested in our future and passionate about our vision. A community fundraiser of $100,000 is a serious matter, and the public faces of this organization should be ones that you know will use that money responsibly and wisely, for the good of future homeschool generations.
The board members are:
- R.L. Stollar
- Nicholas Ducote
- Andrew Roblyer
- Shaney Lee
We will be adding a fifth board member in the next few months.
Isn’t this a bit audacious?
You might think this sounds audacious. If so, we agree with you. But that doesn’t faze us.
Before we launched Homeschoolers Anonymous, we thought that idea was audacious as well. And here we are now, four months later, with hundreds of thousands of views. We’ve been covered byThe Daily Beast, NPR, Mother Jones, The Guardian, and AlterNet. We’re on the brink of creating an organization that can make concrete efforts to improve homeschooling communities for future generations by educating homeschooling families about abuse and self-injury, building financial and emotional support for the next generation, and continuing to share our stories and experiences.
You can make this happen. Donations of any amount are crucial. Sharing the link to this page or the Indiegogo page on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc is even more so. We need you to spread the word.
Will you help us to continue to help others?
Together, we can improve our homeschooling communities.
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