The Journey: Buffalo State SBDC News Feature

At Mother Earth Literacies, LLC, we specialize in curriculum and organizational auditing, mapping and infrastructure development, climate and culture assessments for schools and the workplace, and building inclusive and sustainable environments. As longtime K-16+ educators, we came together and formed our company in November 2021 to address the needs we saw in our local community. Mother Earth Literacies, LLC (MEL) is the brainchild of two University at Buffalo graduates–Dr. Monica Miles and Dr. Kate Haq.

As mothers, scholars, educators, environmentalists, and community activists, we forged a working relationship that has resulted in numerous academic publications, conference presentations, a children’s book, and a growing and expanding new company that addresses social, environmental, and educational needs specific to our Buffalo community.

Guided by environmental justice, our mission is to bring interdisciplinary, place-based curriculum and professional development to the K-16+ community of learners, and help local organizations connect to neighborhoods in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. As a rust-belt city, Buffalo and Western New York are particularly impacted by environmental injustice and the work to educate citizens has just begun. MEL envisions filling educational, STEM, and community needs in our region, along with providing internal collaborative support for nonprofit organizations struggling with sustainability and land/space acquisition.

As we grow our business, we have begun using our expertise to help organizations examine their own practices and sustainability potential. Small Black-led nonprofits, primarily in the East Buffalo, have begun to rely on us to help them with their strategic short and long range goals, aligning their mission and vision to reflect their actual practices within their organizations. Mother Earth Literacies, LLC has worked closely with the leadership of local organizations to ensure open and transparent communication and timely deliverables, it has been contracted to help organizations with curriculum needs as well as strategic direction and policy-advocacy; fundraising and donor/funder development; network development and collaborative support; and relationship building both within and outside of the organizations we serve in partnership.

Using our community-building business approach, we collaborate with partners to understand their needs around equity, growth, and sustainability. We chose the term “partner” over the traditional “client” or “customer” since both can have negative connotations rooted in capitalism. Our justice-oriented business practices help us understand and support our partners and their unique needs using active listening, providing individual attention, responding to partners in a timely manner, and offering deliverables using top notch, asset-based professionalism which honors the critical community impact our partners are offering.

Advising others on sustainability is all well and good, but we have had to take stock of our own practices as we have grown so quickly. Guided by Marilyn Roach at the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State University, we have become a certified MWBE by Erie County and the City of Buffalo. Marilyn also helped us take advantage of some grant funding to have our website redesigned by Daniel Lundquist at Apex Cloud Development. And on July 1, 2023, we hired our first full time employee (Kate) and have also contracted with a number of local experts for specific consulting needs and company support. We were awarded a Foundry Fellowship and have moved our offices to 289 Northampton Street, centering our work in the 14208 neighborhood. Dr. Miles was hired by the University at Buffalo’s Engineering Department and will continue her stellar academic career at our alma mater this fall. We are excited to share our growth with the community and we strongly believe that critically examining our local spaces, inviting the community in, and combating systemic inequalities together is an incredibly worthy undertaking, and Mother Earth Literacies, LLC is available to help every step of the way.

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