Select Page

OAKLAND, Calif. (November 25, 2020) — This year’s Back-to-School season has been one like no other — parents, teachers, and students have all resorted to working and learning from home during a global pandemic amidst civil unrest, inspiring a deeper cultural reflection on social justice. To create impact in its local community and continue driving the back-to-school spirit “at home,” Fair Trade USA® partnered with the Oakland Unified School District to develop an essay contest for middle and high school students challenging them to define the fair trade mission.

The essay question asked, “What is fair trade and why does it matter during the pandemic?” Judges Paul Rice (Founder, President & CEO), Anna Banks (Chief Marketing Officer), and James White (Board Chair) of Fair Trade USA scored the essays based on effectiveness in communicating ideas and addressing the question, accuracy of research and analytical thinking, and creativity and originality in the content selection and presentation. The 6 winners of the essay contests are:

  • Serhaan Khambatta (Claremont Middle School, Grade 8)
  • >Aliya Randle (Edna Brewer Middle School, Grade 6)
  • Jiselle Souza (Montera Middle School, Grade 7)
  • Daisy Amador-Pena (Oakland Technical High School, Grade 12)
  • Zoe Graham (Skyline High School, Grade 10)
  • Olivia Lewis (Skyline High School, Grade 9)

Primary and secondary education has been impacted in complex ways throughout the world as children, parents, teachers, and school districts continue to grapple with the difficulties surrounding virtual learning. On top of that, parents have been struggling to create a comfortable at-home learning space for children and teens. Students from the Oakland Unified School District were invited to submit a 300–500 word essay from August 12 through September 18, 2020 for a chance to win a $500 Pottery Barn Teen gift card. Pottery Barn Teen is a proud member of the Fair Trade USA network of brands offering Fair Trade Certified products that are produced under fair and safe labor practices and help workers earn additional funds that enable sustainable livelihoods and impact investments in their communities. The winning students—three middle school students and three high school students—will be able to use the Pottery Barn Teen gift card to help create comfortable at-home learning spaces.

“It’s a difficult time for students across the globe as we adjust our lives to the effects of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, it’s invigorating to hear students speak so passionately about what fair trade means to them and what they can accomplish on a community level to advance the fair trade movement.” — Paul Rice, Founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA.

Garment and factory workers throughout the apparel and home goods industries have been tremendously impacted during these difficult times as millions face unemployment without the proper resources to support their families. Since the start of the pandemic, Fair Trade USA has taken measures to ensure factory employees can use Fair Trade Community Development Funds for urgent needs like increased access to health and sanitary resources and PPE supplies. Although Fair Trade Certified factories have also been hard hit by the crisis, their management teams and Fair Trade Committees have taken swift action to support employees, including but not limited to:

  • A home goods factory in CL Gupta, India — has a ‘Fair Price Shop’ that is helping the community access daily needs while supplies are rationed or disrupted. The factory’s health clinic also continues to serve employees and take care of minor ailments, easing the burden on large hospitals.
  • At Al- Karam Textile Mills funds are being allocated to support a Grocery Drive which will benefit all workers.
  • Artistic Milliners, a Fair Trade Certified factory in Pakistan, is mobilizing to create an emergency relief fund for workers directly impacted by COVID-19. Check out this inspiring video they created about their work so far.

About Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ seal on a product signifies that it was made according to rigorous fair trade standards that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions, protection of the environment, and strong, transparent supply chains. Rather than creating dependency on aid, Fair Trade USA’s model empowers farmers, workers, and fishermen to fight poverty and earn additional money to improve their communities. Winner of Fast Company’s Social Enterprise of the Year Award and recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also helps brands and retailers tell their stories of impact and educate consumers about the power of their purchase.