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Sunday, January 26 • 4:25pm - 5:35pm
E.E. Ford Fellowship: Youth-Driven Community Engagement in Action

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In this session, I will present a project now in its fourth year, supported by the E.E. Ford Fellowship Foundation. Through the Fellowship, upper school students at RCDS connect with a partner at a local organization and together, they come up with a project they design and implement in the summer. Student projects are 4 or 8-weeks long, and students are paired with a faculty member to support them.

Projects from this year include: running a STEM/dance/literacy camp at a local youth-serving organization, building a Gaga pit at a local Boys and Girls Club, constructing a children's library at a community resource center, redesigning an organization’s website and creating an online volunteer management system, partnering with the NY League of Conservation Voters to analyze data, co-authoring a children’s book about heart disease with kids in a hospital, and several more.

Before the summer begins, Fellows participate in four intensive seminars exploring the larger issues their organizations face (financial, race-related, etc.), their own social identities and why that matters while doing service learning work, and how to run their projects in a way that is truly beneficial to their partner organization. All students receive a materials stipend to manage, helping build budgeting skills. We also meet throughout the summer to brainstorm challenges, celebrate successes, and continue reflecting on the process.

The Fellows are financially compensated for their work through the grant, allowing students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate. Faculty mentors are given a stipend, and at the end of the project, the partner organizations are given a $500 check to be used on something related to the fellowship project (a ballet bar, compensation for counselors, etc.).

In these 20-minute presentations, I will discuss how we facilitate this project, manage the budget, and sustain the partnerships. If allowed by the conference, I’d like to bring a few of our student Fellows so they can speak from a student perspective about how powerful the experience has been and what they have learned about community service in the process. Students already have hand-made trifold presentations showcasing their work, and are eager to discuss their projects, learning outcomes, and impact they made.


Sunday January 26, 2020 4:25pm - 5:35pm EST
Ben Franklin 3-4-5 Table 4