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About Umoja

Umoja is a weekend experience for families that have black/bi-racial children being raised by parents or guardians of another ethnicity. The weekend is designed to be an opportunity for children and their families to examine, explore, reflect, understand and celebrate the rich and diverse traditions of black identities and culture in the United States. The program takes a family based approach with age appropriate sessions for the children and adults during the day and large group educational and celebratory evenings.

The mission of UMOJA is to empower transracial families to raise children that will:

  • Have a positive black identity
  • Be able to talk about race in an honest and open way
  • Feel comfortable in all different cultures
  • Handle basic skin and hair care

Become an UMOJA family. Empower your multi-ethnic family in ways you never imagined.


What UMOJA families are saying

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“Umoja has been a comforting, exciting, inspiring and challenging experience for our family. Our girls have expressed that Umoja weekend is their “favorite family vacation.” It is a truly wonderful event where deeper understandings and lifelong connections can be made.” Mommaerts Family

“Our family loves Umoja! It’s been great for our boys to learn and play with other kids, and it’s been eye opening for us dads as we learn and grow with other parents. Our family is stronger because of the experience.” – Smith Sherer Family

We love UMOJA, the speakers, the entertainment on Saturday night, the beautiful location.  But the number one reason is the other families.  It is an amazing feeling to be with families that look like ours and understand us.  We have made so many friendships through UMOJA.  It is our favorite weekend of the year! – Sevilla Family

UMOJA allows my son to feel comfortable in his own skin. Every year he leaves more confident in himself and his place in the world. But what I didn’t expect was how comfortable I am, among others who are walking the same journey as me. I need this conference just as much as my son does! – Rueger Family

UMOJA Co-founders

Dr. Bola Delano-Orairan

As a cofounder, Dr. Delano-Oriaran develops and directs the curricula focus for the Umoja theme (programming, secures presenters, creates the schedule and materialsDr. Delano is currently an Associate Professor of Education in the Teacher Education Department at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. She inspired and co-founded Umoja, and the Fox Cities Rotary Multicultural Center in Appleton, Wisconsin. Dr. Delano is the recipient of the Downtown Appleton Rotary Club Charles and Patricia Heeter Award. Most recently she was name one of the most influential African Americans in the state of WI by Madison 365 Magazine.

Ms. Julie Ryno

As a co-founder, Ms. Ryno directs all the marketing, fundraising and logistics for Umoja.Ms. Ryno is the National Sales Manager for Diversified Woodcrafts. She was inspired to co-found Umoja when seeking a heritage experience for her two children, Sarah and Caleb. Ms. Ryno serves on several boards in the Education Market including Ed Market Association, The Hands-On Science Partnership and the Council for Art Education. Ms Ryno, along with her husband, Bill, were named the 2012 Champions of Adoption by the State of Wisconsin for their work with Umoja.

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