What is Be The Change?

Be The Change is The Forsyth Promise’s quarterly opportunity to meet as a broader coalition of community advocates for education, to go deep on key issues affecting our local systems of education, to report out on the work of the Promise, and to provide a channel for community advocates of all ages, races, and backgrounds to plug into the work.

The spirit of this event, and our work in general, is open and collaborative. The Promise is about coming out of bunkers and building bridges so that we can come together, collaborate, and improve the quality of the education received by all young people in Forsyth County.

February 28 Event Overview

Graphic facilitation at Be The Change provided by Lea Metz. Click to view at full size. To request a high-resolution file, contact Tyler Sparks at Tyler@ForsythFutures.org.

On February 28th, The Promise hosted the first Be The Change event of 2019, centered around the theme of educational equity and the many facets of equity that must be considered in Forsyth County to begin to improve outcomes for all students. More than 120 event attendees engaged with this theme through:

Additional planned content on The Promise’s overall structure, Action Network Progress, and Community Coalitions Leadership Program was scrapped to allow more time for panel discussion and audience questions.

Check out the audience packet for the full program as well as prompt questions for table conversations.


Stan Law,
President and CEO of YMCA of Northwest North Carolina

Dr. Karen Roseboro,
Instructional Superintendent of Inspire 340 Schools with WS/FCS

Malishai Woodbury,
Board Chair of WS/FCS

The panel was asked several questions about the data and the glaring disparities that are present and how we can begin to move past conversation and into actual strategies for action. They were asked about policies and practices that need to be addressed that disproportionately impact African-American males.

Stan Law responded very candidly about what it is like to be an African-American male and the stress and hurt that comes with that reality. He pointed out that the issues have to be addressed truthfully, saying, “This is not a school system problem, this is a community problem. We have to collaborate and work intentionally.”

This is not a school system problem, this is a community problem. We have to collaborate and work intentionally.

Stan Law

Questions from the audience were very focused with intentionality and the feeling that the community is ready to move collectively to force changes. One audience member asked Board of Education Chair Malishai Woodbury what the ideal resume of the next superintendent should look like and she responded, stating, “The ideal candidate would have experience with turning around a district and would see WS/FCS as a challenge, but would possess the confidence that bold moves would be made to transform low performing schools.” After the panel, she assured the community that there will be a national search.

The ideal candidate [for Superintendent] would have experience with turning around a district and would see WS/FCS as a challenge, but would possess the confidence that bold moves would be made to transform low performing schools.

Malishai Woodbury

Stan Law also shared new plans for the Winston Lake YMCA that will offer office spaces to community organizations and give people in the community better access to wrap-around services. There will be a capital campaign that will renovate the YMCA. Stan spoke very candidly about East Winston-Salem being one of the most underfunded communities he has ever witnessed. He also made a bold statement that spoke to alignment of resources stating that “Organizations that are not producing outcomes should be stripped of their funding.”

Event Transcripts

SHIFT Creative Agency was on hand for the event, capturing footage for a 2019 year-in-review video for The Promise. They were not tasked with recording the event for reporting or archival purposes but were gracious enough to provide transcripts for the footage they were able to capture. While the transcripts are not complete, they offer a clear understanding of the tone and content of the event. Promise staff would like to extend a special thank you to the SHIFT team for going above and beyond to provide this valuable artifact.

Qualitative Analysis of Table Discussions

Following the Screening of Beyond the Bricks, the audience engaged in facilitated table discussions around a set of key questions:

  1. What does this data mean to you? Does it match or contradict your own lived experiences?
  2. Are you surprised by any of the data findings? Why?
  3. What role does our community play in the support and education of our youth? What role should community play?
  4. Where do you see opportunities for greater community collaboration with schools? What would be required to act on these opportunities?
  5. Has Beyond the Bricks caused you to think differently about equity through the lens of educating our youth? If so, how?

Following the event, staff performed a qualitative analysis on themes captured in notes scribed from each of these table discussions.

Demographic Representation at Be The Change

Our goal is to make the groups we convene more demographically reflective of our broader community. By asking Be The Change attendees to complete a brief, anonymous demographic survey, we are better able to understand how effective our efforts to make this event inclusive have been.

Of more than 120 attendees, 55 completed the anonymous demographic survey. View full table of responses.

Key Points from the February 28th Be The Change:

  • The Hispanic/Latino population was underrepresented.
  • People under age 50 were underrepresented.
  • Males were underrepresented.
  • The following Forsyth County ZIP Codes were unrepresented: 27051, 27009, 27052, 27040, 27019, 27050, 27284, and 27012.

Attendees by Geography

Map Credit: Megan Grigg, Forsyth Futures