You may have noticed that I love inviting guests to share their stories here on Bene. The world is full of people who are doing remarkable things to support their communities and create meaningful change across the globe, and I hope these conversations inspire you as much as they inspire me!
Today’s guest is Nadine Fonseca and I’m really looking forward to sharing her story. Nadine is CEO and co-founder of Mighty Kind, an anti-bias education company empowering children everywhere to celebrate diversity and build a kinder world. I love that Mighty Kind works to reflect the world as it currently is. There are no judgements or valuations, only opportunities for connection and reflection.
If you have questions for Nadine, leave them in the comments below or reach out to her on IG where Mighty Kind shares fun Did You Know? updates and interesting details about their upcoming debuts!
Nina Westbrook — As the CEO and co-founder of Mighty Kind, you are committed to fostering anti-bias/anti-racist learning environments through kindness and compassion. What inspired this movement and how has Mighty Kind evolved since its founding? What does a day in the life of a Mighty Kind CEO look like?
Nadine Fonseca – Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area as a first generation American, I was exposed to a lot of diversity. As the daughter of an immigrant, I had a front row seat to how assimilation was tied to survival in this country. It was one of those situations where you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, but one day, after an out of state move with my husband and family I was hit like a ton of bricks with the realization that we had not prepared ourselves for living in a much more homogenous area — let alone raising our kids in one. As a work-from-home mom and home schooler, I had the time privilege to create and curate a curriculum of sorts that was designed to replicate opportunities for engaging with diversity in its many forms. While it was no replacement for organic life experiences, I was able to be very intentional about the conversations I had with my children regarding the world around them and the potential role they get to play in it. From there, I wanted to do what I could to bring these resources to others who may be in a similar situation. People who want to prioritize anti-bias learning, but who may not have the time privilege I was afforded to get things started in their own families.
Every day is different! We launched Mighty Kind right before the pandemic, so it’s been a while since we’ve had any semblance of a “normal” schedule. Some days I’m up at 4:00am and other days I’m up until 4:00am! There are ebbs and flows, but as an entrepreneur, you wear a lot of hats. I’ve been better lately about setting boundaries and limits for myself, mostly because my team is amazing and reminds me to do so!
NW — Mighty Kind is rooted in the notion that empathy and understanding have the power to break down barriers like fear and prejudice. Can you walk us through a typical issue of Mighty Kind magazine – how do these resources encourage empathy and understanding?
NF – Of course. The series is meant to reflect the world as it currently is. There are no judgements or valuations, just perspectives and opportunities for connection and reflection. The publication is broken down into 5 sections:
1. Issue Theme: Each issue includes feature articles and activities that revolve around an interesting shared human experience such as food, nature, or greetings.
2. Destination: Next we take a deeper look into the traditions and way of life in a specific country, region, or culture. The first issue highlighted Mexico and included maps, facts, recipes, notes from a traveling kid-reporter, a pen pal, and more.
3. The Big Idea: We also guide children through a personal growth concept to help them develop a positive sense of self and a strong sense of moral character. Topics allow children to develop introspection through stories and activities like journal prompts. Some big ideas have been sharing, integrity, and teamwork.
4. Kindness In Action: Finally, we encourage children to take action through service, volunteer work, and social justice. In this section, we also highlight the good work of kids around the globe showing our readers that you don’t have to be big to be mighty.
5. The Grown-Up Section: Here adults who are looking for additional guidance and resources will find essays, expert advice, and other exercises that allow for further anti-bias learning as well as scaffolded conversations. We want parents, teachers, caregivers, and other mentors to feel confident in their anti-bias learning journey as they grow alongside the children who are actively engaged in the magazine.
NW – From respecting the planet to exploring cultural appropriation and the refugee crisis, I love that you’re addressing some big conversations, and that you’re facilitating those conversations for families all over the country! What kind of feedback are you hearing from parents and educators, and how are children responding to your Mighty Kind resources?
NF – We’ve received some really amazing feedback. Most commonly we hear, “I wish I had grown up with something like this!” which makes us feel like we are on the right track with the work we are pursuing. We have had teachers share with us how they are using Mighty Kind in their classrooms to reinforce citizenship and social studies concepts, as well as geography/map work and even social emotional learning. We have also received feedback when we have worded something poorly or missed a teaching opportunity. We are especially grateful for this feedback as it’s the only way we can get better and better at what we do. We, as a team of volunteer moms, are on our own anti-bias learning journey right along with our readers and we are grateful when someone calls us in and gives us the opportunity to learn better and do better.
NW – Mighty Kind is managed by volunteer moms and you collaborate with dozens of BIPOC artists and illustrators from around the world. How do the contributions of so many diverse communities enrich your message and the resources you create?
NF – This is what breathes life and true authenticity into this series. We have always had the aim of creating a platform to amplify diverse voices from historically marginalized communities and it is an honor to be able to do that in this format. We get to bring in stories, interviews, experts, art, traditions, recipes, languages, and so much more from some truly incredible people around the world. I think our staff is always blown away by how much we learn as we produce each quarterly issue. Our team is made up of some talented and generous ladies. It is a true thing of beauty to have so many people with such diverse backgrounds, expertise, experiences, etc. all come together to move forward a common goal. I’m surrounded by the best of the best!
NW – If someone is new to Mighty Kind or just beginning their anti-bias/anti-racist education journey, where do you suggest they start? Are there 3 – 5 simple activities a family can do each day to foster an anti-bias/anti-racist home environment?
NF – There are many ways parents can start their journeys, along with their children! I’d recommend trying a new restaurant with cuisine from another culture, visit a religious service different from your own, find a cultural festival or celebration, seek out your nearest drag queen story time, cheer on the athletes or volunteer at a local Special Olympics event or at an adaptive sports tournament – and then find a way to give back to that community. Connect with people in your community and be ready to listen.
NW – What’s next for you and for Mighty Kind?
NF – You know, it’s tricky to answer that question. We have some really lofty goals for what more Mighty Kind can offer to the members of society at large who are ready to engage in this work. World Anti-Bias/Anti-Racist Domination sounds about right! 😉 But we also work in a really delicate and sensitive climate alongside people who are entrusting us with their stories and sharing small parts of their heart with us and our readers, so we also want to do right by them and by our readers. As much as I’d love to have Mighty Kind be the Disney of anti-bias education (beloved, beautiful, heartfelt, and accessible), I’m far more concerned with doing it intentionally and doing it right, even if that means expansion holds steady in the wings. It is a privilege to have a platform, and a responsibility to use it to incite change. What’s next for me, personally? Probably calendaring my sleep schedule and starting to take a multivitamin – I’m in this for the long haul.