What is a Mocha Mom?
A Mocha Mom is a woman of color who has modified or eliminated her employment in order to devote more time to the care and nurturing of her family. It is also anyone who supports the mission of supporting at-home mothers of color.
How did Mocha Moms, Inc. begin?
Four Maryland women who wanted to connect mothers of color from across the country who were taking time off from their careers to raise their children started it in 1997. It first began as a newsletter intended to encourage at-home mothers of color to feel good about their choice and to provide information to enrich their parenting experience. The idea quickly caught on and the women decided to form the organization that we know today.
What is the Mission and Purpose of the organization?
The primary mission is to support and encourage women who are making parenting a priority during this season in their lives. Mocha Moms, Inc. serves as an advocate for at-home mothers of color and encourages the spirit of community activism within its membership.
What is the Mocha Moms, Inc. National Platform?
The national platform includes: non-exclusivity; strengthening marriages and families; securing strong educational foundations for our children; self care and taking time for ourselves, mind, body and spirit; community activism and the spirit of volunteerism; support and respect for all mothers.
Why does Mocha Moms, Inc. exist? Why do you need a group for moms of color?
Mocha Moms, Inc. exists in part to set the record straight. Families of color are making great sacrifices in order to provide their children the opportunity to have an at-home mother. Women of color are joining the growing ranks of mothers who are choosing parenting over a paycheck. The organization is essential because historically mothers of color, particularly African-American mothers, have not had the opportunity to devote a significant amount of time caring for their own families. Many in this new generation are staying at home with little support from society and sometimes without the approval and understanding of their own families. Further, there are many cultural differences that warrant a group like Mocha Moms, Inc. – so mothers of color can address their specific needs and discuss many of the issues their children of color will face as they enter school and grow up
Is this just an organization for women of color? What are the requirements for membership?
Mocha Moms welcomes people of all religions, races, educational backgrounds and income levels. It is open to anyone who supports its mission. The requirements for membership are minimal– just $50 for yearly dues and support for the mission and purpose.
Are most of your members at home because of downsizing/layoffs/unemployment?
It is important to note that the majority of our members are at home by choice and not by default.
What draws people to the organization?
People are drawn to Mocha Moms, Inc. because of its sweeping policy of non-exclusivity (anyone who supports the mission is welcome to join) and its generous warmth and support for its members. On a basic level, women are connecting with each other, swapping ideas, exchanging information and combating some of the loneliness and isolation they feel as at-home mothers. More specifically, they are feeling comfortable about the choices they are making for themselves and their families and helping their children feel comfortable in their own skin.
Is this just a playgroup for the kids?
No. Mocha Moms, Inc. is a support group, with a heavy focus on the moms. As such, most of our activities are geared toward moms and not children. Of course, children are certainly welcome, but they are not essential.
How big is Mocha Moms, Inc.? How many chapters?
Mocha Moms, Inc. is growing by leaps and bounds. It currently has approximately 100 chapters in 29 states and about 3,000 members.
Does Mocha Moms, Inc. promote a particular style of parenting?
Mocha Moms, Inc. does not extol any particular parenting style or subscribe to any method, though it actively encourages healthy lifestyle choices.
Is this a religious organization?
This is not a religious organization. Our goal is to not make anybody feel uncomfortable because of his or her religion. If women in Mocha Moms, Inc. are interested in getting together and forming a religious group, they are more than welcome to get together outside of the framework of the organization.
What are the benefits of being a stay at home mom vs. a working mother?
Mocha Moms, Inc. adamantly refuses to participate in any mommy wars or tit for tat benefit comparison between stay at home and working moms. The first and foremost reason is that three of the four founders of Mocha Moms, Inc. were employed outside the home when and shortly after founding the organization. According to the US Census, they would have been classified as “working” mothers. Furthermore, most of our mothers and grandmothers worked. They were the backbone of the black family. We are not in any position to judge or say that what works for us works for every family. We know that life if full of tough choices and that people do what they have to do to keep their families afloat. We also know that whether a parent is at-home or working, the greatest benefits to children come from parents who are committed to spending quality time nurturing their children, gathering the tools and information to make educated and informed decisions, utilizing the resources available to them and building support systems.
Are there any new initiatives within the organization?
Mocha Moms, Inc. has been spreading its wings to include new partnerships with the EPA, Susan G. Komen, the UN Foundation’s Shot @Life campaign, Donate Life America and Girl Scouts USA. Our organization also partners with the White House Office of Public Engagement on a number of events and initiatives, including White House briefings on the environment, the economy and issues of concern to women and mothers.
Many of Mocha Moms’ initiatives are an outgrowth of our community service initiative Closing the Gap in Minority Health, Prosperity and Achievement, a far reaching initiative meant to help close important gaps in a variety of areas, including minority achievement, health and finance. Mocha Moms has also partnered with a number of key organizations to work towards this goal, including Zero to Three, America’s Promise, Be the Match and Boys Booked on Barbershops. In addition, Mocha Moms chapters are working in their communities as mentors, tutors and volunteers, and creating signature “Closing the Gap” programs, including out Mocha Literacy program in which chapters set up reading nooks in doctor and dentist offices and other important locations to foster a love of reading among children of color.
In previous years, we were involved in a Women and Heart Disease national community service initiative. Chapters across the country hosted forums and information sessions, sponsored heart walks and spread the word about the symptoms, prevention and treatment of this devastating disease that disproportionately affects African American women.
In 2004 we launched several networks within our organization to help our moms feel connected as they move through the different stages in their lives. Current networks include:
- Home Alone network - for at-home moms whose children are now school-aged
- Work at Home network, for moms who work at home or have home-based businesses
- Homeschooling network, for moms who homeschool their children to exchange information and gather resources.
- Mochas Supporting Children with Special Needs
- Mochas in Transition – for Mochas who are experiencing some type of transition in their lives
- Military Moms network
- Marriage Support network
- Divorced and Separated Network
What issues are Mocha Moms discussing?
Members discuss a wide range of issues from living on one income and saving for college to issues of minority achievement and racism, as well as fairly regular topics like discipline and balancing kids and laundry.
How do local chapters operate?
Local chapters usually operate under three main components: weekly mothers’ support group meetings, for moms to connect on a weekly basis; monthly moms-only get-togethers or outings, for moms to socialize without their children, listen to guest speakers and discuss topics of interest; regular community service, to "give back" to the community and help those in need. Each local chapter has local officers who are in charge of the day-to-day operations and activities of that chapter.
What is the structure of the National organization?
A seven-member National Executive Board governs Mocha Moms, Inc. The National Board meets regularly to determine policy, establish rules, regulations and procedures, direct the website, assist in the formation of chapters, create and distribute the national newsletter, plan national events and activities, and coordinate publicity.
Is Mocha Moms, Inc. involved in political action, endorsing candidates and political platforms?
No. Mocha Moms, Inc. is a 501c3 support organization, with its goal to support and encourage at-home mothers of color. Mocha Moms, of course, supports the spirit of volunteerism and activism within its ranks. Partnerships/relationships with government entities and public policy organizations merely exist to provide non-partisan, concrete and specific information to further educate Mocha Moms members.
Is there a National Conference?
Mocha Moms, Inc. held its first national conference in Maryland in 2002. Subsequent conferences included:
2005 – Philadelphia, PA
2007 – Atlanta, GA
2009 – Chicago, IL
2011 – Las Vegas, NV
2013 – National Harbor, MD
Is there a movement toward more women of color staying at home?
Since the 80’s and 90’s, Mocha Moms have been part of a growing movement of women (of all colors) choosing parenting over a paycheck. It is not clear if the numbers of mothers of color staying at home are growing. It is clear, however, that at-home mothers of color, until now, have been an unrecognized segment of the growing movement.
What are some of the issues facing women of color who stay at home?
Many women of color have made their choice to stay at home without the support of their parents/families. Some parents of color believe that they worked hard to send their children to college so they could have careers, and that staying at home is now “throwing it away.” Other issues women of color face include feelings of loneliness and isolation, lost identity and inadequate social balance.
How do members communicate?
On a local level, members communicate via email and during weekly/monthly meetings. Some chapters have their own websites and email discussion groups for further information and discussion. On a national level, Mocha Moms publishes an online newsletter, sends periodic updates and hosts email discussion groups among chapter and regional leaders. Mocha Moms also has a loyal Facebook following of 8,000+ fans, more than 3,500 followers on Twitter, a significant presence on LinkedIn and an email database of 10,000+
What kinds of community service projects are Mocha Moms doing?
As part of our national community service initiative, Closing the Gap in Minority Health, Prosperity and Achievement, Mocha Moms are hosting educational forums in their communities, health and wellness symposiums to raise awareness of health disparities and financial planning workshops. They are mentoring children, volunteering in schools, hosting literacy nights and mother/daughter book clubs, and as part of Boys Booked on Barbershops (BBOB), they are setting up reading nooks in barbershops and beauty shops to foster a love of reading. To date, more than 100 reading nooks have been set up in barbershops and beauty shops throughout the country. Our community service work with BBOB was featured in a 2008 “Making a Difference” segment on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
What is the purpose of “playgroup”?
“Playgroup” is really a misnomer. It is really called Mothers’ Support Group, though many moms refer to it as “playgroup” because they often bring their children. Mothers’ Support Group is a chance for women to connect on a weekly basis, exchange information, bounce ideas off each other and support each other in their choices.
I am a current member of a local chapter but I would like to join another local chapter in my area as dual member. What steps do I take to do that?
To join a second chapter as a Dual Chapter Member, you would only need to pay the new local chapter $25 directly for your dual chapter membership. The Chapter President would then be responsible to contact the National Administrator to advise the national office that you have joined their local chapter as a Dual Chapter member. The National Administrator will then officially add you to their local chapter roster.
What do the membership fees pay for?
Chapter membership fees are distributed between the local chapter and the National Office. One half of the fee goes to the local chapter treasury and one half of the fee goes to the National Office. The local chapter uses their portion of the fees for chapter expenses such as websites, PO boxes, local events, community service, etc. The National office uses their portion of the fees to pay for liability insurance which covers all chapters, membership processing, the National Website, Media and Publicity, National/Regional Conferences, National Community Service Initiative programming, and other national operating expenses.