July 1, 2019
We are so excited to announce that the Progress Center for Black Women is Short Stack’s Organization of the Month for July! The Progress Center for Black Women is a hub of community, connections, valued experiences and opportunities for Black women to transform their lives and families. W sat down with Sabrina Madison, the founder of the Progress Center, to talk about the mission and work of the Progress Center and ask for some advice for allies and volunteers looking to become involved.
Tell me a little bit about the history and mission of your organization?
When I moved to Madison, I definitely had rose-colored glasses on, I knew it was smaller, cleaner and safer than Milwaukee. Within the first week, I had experienced multiple micro-agressions from white men and woman and found limited spaces for Black women. There weren’t easily identifiable places for Black women in the decision-making process and the only news coverage of the Black community I seemed to be getting was framed negatively. I decided to create a space for Black women to have ownership and find opportunities to live their best lives.
One of the Progress Center’s recurring events is Community Coworking Day, held every 2nd Wednesday of the month. Can you expand on what exactly this event is ?
Community Coworking is an event held every month that seeks to provide a comfortable place for anyone living and working in the greater Madison area to get work done. I created it as a place that place that anyone, but especially Black women can cite to their employers as a remote working location. I say that allies are more than welcome to use this space, and another goal of the event is to bring different members of the community together, different communities together to expand the network and find innovative solutions.
What is the most rewarding aspect about your work ?
Seeing goals accomplished and seeing that brightness others faces.. During, the Black Women’s Leadership Conference in 2016, a woman stood up and said, I’ve lived in Madison for 14 years and I’ve never had this experience before. She was talking about a room of 100 plus Black women discussing their life experiences led and facilitated by Black women. I would like to give a shoutout to Short Stack Eatery for creating a very welcoming atmosphere and beautiful breakfast spread for the attendees of the 3rd Annual Conference.
What advice would you give to people searching to become involved in their community ?
When you’re searching for opportunities, look to match your interests. Start this opportunity looking to be of service and become a better servant and leader. Go into service work from the perspective that you’ll learn while volunteering and that most folks aren’t looking to be saved, they may simply need someone to offer a few hours of help.
What is some advice you would give to allies and people seeking to become allies of the Black community ?
Firstly, get out of your feelings. Acknowledge you may be uncomfortable and then move on. Read and educate yourself so you aren’t unknowingly bringing harm into the community. Black women especially are not here to teach and educate you about what you don’t know. You’re responsible for educating yourself.
What are the Progress Center’s plans for the Summer ?
We will be doing some activities out in our green space, yoga and inviting authors to read to children. . We also are gearing up for a trunk party. We had a donation drive for a young woman in college who was in need of supplies and there were so many supplies left over that we are making up trunks of supplies for multiple young women to take with them to college. I personally will be traveling multiple times a month to visit and observe spaces around the country that have similar goals as my own. I am also searching for what will become our permanent home in Madison.