Closing the gap between socioeconomic status and academic achievement through open discussion
I am a graduate student at San Jose State University working on my MLIS degree. I'm an avid knitter, crocheter, and all-around crafter. I enjoying hiking and generally being outdoors. My cat and I spend the rest of my free time bonding over jigsaw puzzles.
One of our recommended books, Darnell Rock Reporting, brings up the idea of a community garden as a way to help the homeless in the community. By providing a public space for communal food growth, those in poverty or those living on the street can contribute to a positive part of the community as well as grow their own food.
I had never heard of this before, but I quickly became a little obsessed with the idea. The American Community Garden Association is a great resource for all-you-can-want info on current community gardens near you, best practices and products for you garden, and tips on starting a community garden in your area.
Who says you’re too young to help make a difference in your community? Change comes from all walks of life working together and can be inspired by any age. This website encourages younger generations to make a difference by providing ideas to help the community and asking kids to share their stories.
Some of my favorite ideas include a Student vs. Faculty Play-Off fundraiser and a costume ball to help raise money. Writing letters to influential and important people is a good way to influence change with the power of words while at the same time improving your own literacy and writing skills.
Teach for America is an organization that connects teacher with at-risks schools. They believe that every child deserves a fair chance to succeed, despite how much money their parents make, the color of their skin, or their family’s native language. This organization takes new graduates as well as established teachers looking for a change. Teach for America also offers student loan payment assistance.
Lift for Life Academy is a charter middle and high school located in St. Louis, Missouri. It is in Downtown St. Louis, in one of the more at-risk neighborhoods. The student body is mostly African American. Renovated from an old bank, this school provides students equal opportunity to be creative and reach their full academic potential.
At the middle school level, “Lift For Life Academy experienced success in doubling the proficiency rate among seventh grade students from their initial sixth grade year” and “LFLA middle school students outperformed the city’s school district in math at two grade levels.”
At the high school level, LFLA has a “graduation rate of 92%, with 88% of graduates being accepted into college, technical schools or the military in 2015” and “over 80% of 2012 graduates who completed technical or two-year college degrees are employed in their area of study.”
During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to shadow at LFLA. Both the students and the staff were truly inspiring. They were a creative, supportive family that provided a wonderful environment for learning.
City Year is an organization that helps students and communities in poverty. It recruits 17-24 year olds to volunteer for a year of community service. Their volunteer work can include mentoring at elementary, middle, and high schools in high-poverty communities, as well as other projects to improve the community. In about a year, “City Year helped reduce by half the number of at-risk students,” with a 54% reduction of off track ELA students and a 46% reduction of off track Math students.
For more information about the success rate of City Year, and how to join, check out www.cityyear.org/
In this article, you’ll learn about the Greene County Middle School, a school in North Carolina with a big heart. The staff believes that, in order to help students improve and succeed, the community needs to be an extension of school life. The school participates in many organized events to help the less fortunate and encourages everyone (educators, students, parents, community members) to participate. The school nurse and social workers also visit the homes of those in poverty around the community. Greene County Middle School also has one-to-one laptops so every student can participate in computer-assisted learning. Check out this article to learn about more great practices from Green County Middle School.
DoSomething.org is an organization that encourages young people (students!) to foster social change. On this page they present 11 somewhat startling facts about poverty and how it affects students in America. They also encourage viewers to sign up for any number of their numerous campaigns to “make the world suck less.”
An interesting campaign is called Stacks on Stacks. This campaign aims to improve literacy of students in impoverished schools by providing books. To get the books, schools, grades, or communities can hold a book drive. To encourage participation, it can be a competition between grades or schools to see who can collect the most books.