Education Works helps connect schools with community partners to help aleviate current needs and pioneer new programs and services. AmeriCorps members and community volunteers work to help students stay in school, inspire a love of learning, and take some of the pressure off of already overworked teachers. From their founding in 1994 to 2008 Education Works showed much progress. Students who benefited from the programs during the year showed more than one year’s academic growth on standardized tests. In addition, teachers reported 90% of their students improved academically. However, the benefits exceeded academia. Teachers and principals rated more than 80% of students in our programs as having improved classroom behavior and engaged in less fighting.
Harlem Children’s Zone, first began in the early 1990′s when they ran a pilot project offering a range of support services to a single block in Harlem. They wanted to address all the problems that poor families in the area were facing from health issues to education. Today, the organization serves over 100 blocks in Harlem, which includes over 8,000 children and 6,000 adults. Last year, 197 students from the program were accepted into college, representing 90% of their high-school seniors. As for their younger participants, 100% of third graders at Promise Academies I and II tested at or above grade level on the math exam, outperforming their peers in New York State, New York City, District 5, and black and white students throughout the state. The New York Times rightfully labeled the project, “one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time.”
Project SHINE is an initiative which works to join college students with elderly immigrants and refugees so that they can build relationships through language, literacy, and citizenship tutoring. The project helps young people learn from people of diverse backgrounds, and it helps immigrants and refugees connect with their communities in meaningful ways. SHINE has partnered with 31 colleges and universities and over 200 ethnic, community and faith-based organizations in 18 cities across the country. Many professors incorporate service learning through SHINE into over 1000 courses. SHINE students demonstrated statistically significant increases in civic skills and knowledge of U.S. immigration when compared with students who had not participated in SHINE. Not to mention, they provided over 150,000 hours of service to almost 40,000 older immigrants.
Growing Native evolved out of a need for native hardwood seedlings to support expanding reforestation and restoration efforts in the Potomac River watershed. Today, it is a program in which volunteers of all ages collect native tree seeds and plant them along streams and rivers in the region. They are helping to create forests for the future which will help to keep water clean and healthy. Since its beginning in 2001, nearly 30,000 volunteers collected more than 94,000 pounds of acorns, walnuts, and other hardwood tree seeds. These seeds have generated seedlings that will be used to restore sensitive stream side lands.
Stay tuned next week…