Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Challenges and Transitions at Cowen Institute

The last month of work at Cowen Institute has been very up and down. We’ve had issues with communication and overall organization, so I was excited to bring on our new Chief Operating Officer. The progress for our new strategic vision was instantly halted due to a “scandal” in which we retracted a just-released report. The local, then national press got its hands on the story that we had messed up in some way, which brought on weeks of moving slowly and looking over our shoulders before taking action. The report retraction has had big consequences for the direction of the Institute, and it will still be a considerable amount of time before we are able to move forward at full steam. On a personal level, the recent developments have totally changed the scope of my work.

The annual report, which was previously one of my main focuses, was first altered, postponed, and now cancelled in favor of a new year-end ask with a slightly different motive and much reduced size. The plan to move forward with constructing a new website has also not seen any progress. I pushed for a change to our web presence as one of my first initiatives at Cowen, but due to changing leadership, it may still be a while before a decision to start building a new website is made. Because of this, I can also not work on the initiative to set up a web presence for our new and thriving Earn and Learn program. The program, which gives Opportunity Youth (16-24 year olds not employed or in school) life coaching, higher education classes at Delgado Community College, and internships and mentorship opportunities through Tulane, is one of the few very high points of the last few months of work. Unfortunately, their site will have to wait, too.

In these changing times, I’ve done my best to try and stay busy and do valuable work. I am also trying to be optimistic about not viewing work I’ve done as obsolete. I went with a Tulane photographer to Sci High for annual report pictures. The report is scrapped, but are the pictures useless? Of course not! They may be just as valuable in any other promotional material, report, or who knows what.

A student dissecting an Owl Pellet. Mmm mmm good!

A student dissecting an Owl Pellet. Mmm mmm good!

Plus, if I didn’t attend that photoshoot I would never know that Hammer-Time is, in fact, Reading Time.

One happy, literate M.C.

One happy, literate M.C.

I’ve also been able to do a little more working with the Earn and Learn program, which I love. I’ve been writing short pieces about the lives of our student apprentices for the monthly e-newsletters. The goal of the pieces is to show our stakeholders that the young people in our program have been affected adversely by oppressive systems, and that they are motivated and good people trying to create the best outcomes for themselves. While recent times at work have been quite tough, meaningful work and positive changes to the organization are keeping me hopeful for the future.


One comment on “Challenges and Transitions at Cowen Institute

  1. Jack Styczynski
    November 19, 2014

    Hang in there, Griff!

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on November 12, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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