Fighting Poverty with Passion
My First Couple of Weeks as a VISTA
This first couple of weeks as a VISTA has been quite a ride! I am joining Youth Rebuilding New Orleans as it is in the middle of planning for its newest program: Future Leaders. Although I’m coming in during the middle of the start-up process and, I have a lot to learn, I really look forward to being part of it. I am confident that this well-planned program has great potential to make a positive impact on the community. More information on the program is provided below (I helped write this for a grant proposal, so I’m pretty proud of how it turned out!):
The youth of New Orleans do not have adequate access to job opportunities, leadership development, financial literacy training, civic engagement and college preparation due to a lack of funding and resources within the educational system of New Orleans. Many youth are not being properly educated and trained so that they have fair and equitable opportunities upon graduation. This puts them at a disadvantage when seeking secondary education and job-placement opportunities.
YRNO believes that the Future Leaders Initiative will offset the educational disadvantages of these young scholars. Starting on September 1st, we will incorporate 2 full-time employees into our team whose sole jobs are to provide academic support to the youth of New Orleans. These full-time mentors, known as Youth Engagement Coordinators, will be coming to us through the Lousiana Delta Service Corps (LDSC). This year, they will be working with the freshman classes of two of our partner high schools in New Orleans. Each freshman class consists of about 150 students.
The Youth Engagement Coordinators (YECs) will serve as consistent role models for the students that they interact with, many of whom don’t have a constant mentor to look to for guidance in their lives. Their responsibilities will include tutoring and mentoring students in various settings, including classical classrooms and more independent after-school tutoring. They will also work with our partner schools to develop and teach a curriculum that consists of lessons on personal life skills, job readiness, home-ownership and financial literacy. The last prong of these employees responsibilities will be to mix in-class service-learning exercises with on and off-site service opportunities. These opportunities may range anywhere from building benches on campus to traveling to one of YRNO’s sites to assist in the rebuilding of a home.
The Future Leaders Initiative has great potential for expansion. Once developed, YECs will modify the curriculum so that it could be taught by any teacher, anywhere. YRNO’s goal for this program is to make the largest possible impact on the community. In having a curriculum that can be taught by any teacher, anywhere, the potential of the program is limitless. The curriculum will allow YRNO to easily place more LDSCs in more partner schools. Establishment of a curriculum will allow the program’s benefits to persist into the future.
In other news, my roommate Betsy and I have been having a ball cooking “family” dinners together. We often feed the boys (Jack and Richard) who live right down the hall. It’s been working out much better than either of us expected, especially because we can get the boys to wash dishes and take out the trash! It’s a symbiotic relationship.