Tagged: “Education”

Freedom Summer Camp at the Museum

How do children and teens in Rural and Low-Income Communities spend their summer when school is over? In Opelousas, St Landry Parish, Louisiana, Summer School is provided by church congregations and a few local public schools. However, this year 2019, a large number of students won’t be able to attend Summer School after the burning of three black Baptist churches in St Landry Parish by an arsonist during a string of 10 days in April 2019.

The burning of black churches was a common intimidation tactic during the Jim Crow era.

For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community.

The burning of the Saint Landry Parish black churches was classified as a hate crime.

With a predominantly agricultural community with a deep pride in a francophone heritage, Black Baptist churches in Saint Landry Parish, LA offer church-based educational programs, from after-school tutorials to summer schools, computer classes to family science activities. Black churches have an historic commitment to education, and educational agencies see black churches as their best link to children in neighborhoods beset by poverty, violence and school failure.

To accommodate our Community and help our youth in Opelousas, St Landry Parish, LA the Rural African American Museum has offered to sponsor a summer camp for the children of the congregations affected by the destruction of their churches, the suppression of their place of worship and the suppression of their churches’ activities ensuing struggles.

I offered my Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana Congregation members the opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values

The Rural African American Museum will offer a summer Camp program from 2-6pm at the Rural African American Museum, in Opelousas, with focus on providing educational services to youth of Opelousas during 4 weeks in July 2019 (July 1 – 26, 2019).

This all day program will be free, except for administrative fees.

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, the local Committee “Rural African American Museum” will monitor and visit the home of any child who may miss summer camp. The Committee “Rural African American Museum” is composed of Board members, educators and local leaders who will be following up to ensure that the children will complete the summer camp program at the African-American Museum.

At a time where there is a continued rise in racial and religious based hate crimes, Opelousas is facing a situation that requires an immediate effort on the part of Louisiana government and local organizations to support underprivileged children who are marginalized due to issues of economic class. It is imperative to support these youth by providing technical assistance and educational tools that could enable them to benefit from a good education that meets their needs.

Recognizing the critical importance of education to community empowerment and economic development in St Landry Parish, Louisiana, to help the local youth acquire the skills necessary in communication, help them believe in themselves, to empower their success and self-esteem.

The Rural African American History Museum was formed to establish, collect, hold, and preserve exhibit as a way to relate to the history of Rural African-American in St Landry and rely only on donations. Sponsoring the Summer Camp will help our local youth establish links, relate to their culture and respect their roots even in the face of adversity and hate crime.

This campaign will support the summer school to raise $ 3,500, which is needed to meet the budget expenses.

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM

The program for the Summer camp will be offered to ten St Landry Parish school students age 12-15, with the following activities:

ACTION and RESEARCH PROJECT “POETRY and CIVIL RIGHTS”

  1. First week: RESEARCH and CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS

ENHANCING STUDENTS‘ CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS: a Social Studies research project using Chromebooks laptops, books, articles and artifacts available at the Rural African American Museum. 

As I raised educational funds in 2018 for my Community in St Landry Parish to equip my students with technology, summer school students will have the opportunity to work with chromebooks for their research and presentation.

  1. Second week: Computer literacy SKILLS

Applied Digital Skills to improve digital literacy with Google, using Google classroom. Students will use Google slides to present their research findings.

Students will incorporate French poetry to their presentation.

  • Third Week: Performing arts SKILLS

Theatre techniques to build youth communication skills and self esteem.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

  1. Fourth week:

Art skills: Organizing, framing artifacts for the Rural African American Museum display.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Bridge geographic and generational borders using 21st century technologies

Material:

Technology: Three Chromebooks will be available for students to use for students’ research and presentation findings, with a projector for display. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

ARTS / Performing Arts: Colors, crayons, paper, mic. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Library: Use of books, articles, artifacts available at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Budget expenses:

Teachers’ Salary (2 teachers)

  • Teaching artist spoken word, slam poetry                      $1,500

Teaching Artist qualified and certified

  • Teaching Creative writing and performing Art                 $1,500

Teacher qualified and certified

  • Art workshop supplies (craft, notebook, frames, colors)   $   500 

TOTAL Expenses:                                                                   $ 3,500

My claim as a UULALA Congregation Social Concerns Co-Chair and member of the Unitarian Universalism Association

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Lower the walls between existing congregations
  • Members of the Baptist Black Churches will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.
  • Members of the UULALA (Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana) will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.

Our Congregation voted unanimously June 4, 2019 in favour of the project at our UULALA Congregation executive meeting.

I offer my UULALA Congregation members an opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

Background information on the Opelousas, LA churches’ fire:

As June 12, 2019, a young man from Opelousas, Louisiana, was charged by a federal grand jury for a hate crime

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/louisiana-man-charged-federal-hate-crimes-setting-fire-three-st-landry-parish-churches

Invest in Educational...

Project Beneficiaries:

Community Empowerment Network-Haiti (CEN Haiti) has been providing support to the Petion-Ville community in Haiti for the past four years.  The only community school in the area, l’Ecole Communautaire de Phillippeau particularly targets restaveks, who are children who left their rural home where there are no schools available to stay with family members in the city in hope of being able to attend school and pay for their room and board by doing housework. The school was founded in 2002 specifically to provide an educational opportunity for this at-risk youth population.

Project Description and Rationale:

The school is located in a low-income area that has seen an influx of residents with each natural disaster over the past decade. Since its partnership with CEN-Haiti began in 2016, the school has made significant progress in revitalizing and reconstructing a strong educational program for approximately 400 students per year. To accommodate the maximum number of students, the school offers a morning program from 7:00 am – 12:00 pm and another program from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Because the school particularly focuses on providing educational services to restaveks, the half-day program gives the students time to come to school without neglecting their house chores. Making the program half-day and free, except for a small administrative fee, removes any excuse for families not sending a child to school. In order to ensure the integrity of the program, the local Committee for the Protection of Children will visit the home of any child who has missed school to caution the family that they will be reported to the local authority if their child does not attend school regularly. The committee is composed of local leaders who are very good at following up to ensure that the host families treat the restavek children and youth well, including giving them sufficient time to focus on their studies and complete homework.

L’Ecole Communautaire de Philippeau provides at-risk youth with a comprehensive primary- to-secondary education program, thus addressing a critical need for the surrounding communities. The program expects to also offer young people an opportunity to continue their education, learn English, and build technical skills necessary to attain a job in one of the local industries.

Professional education continues to be a key factor in Haiti’s economic development. The accumulated deficits from natural disaster and economic downfall have created a situation that requires an immediate effort on the part of the Haitian government and local organizations to support underprivileged children who are marginalized due to issues of economic class. It is imperative to support these youth by providing technical assistance and training that could enable them to benefit from a good education that meets their needs.

Director-and-teachers

How Much Money the School Needs for its Yearly Operations:

Recognizing the critical importance of education to community empowerment and economic development, CEN-Haiti has invested heavily in the revitalization of the school.   This campaign will support the school to raise $15,000, which is needed to meet its yearly operating budget and sustain the school for the remainder of the 2019 school year. One generous donor has already pledged $10,000.  Please join us and helping raise an additional $5,000 in funds through Faithify.

MID-YEAR QUANTITATIVE RESULTS (2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR)

Number of Registered Students 400 (5 classes with 40 students each/morning and afternoon groups)
Number that will complete the academic year 390
Number of Teachers 13 (6 for Primary School; 7 for Secondary)
Average Number of Teacher Hours Per Week 44

Ramapough Lenape Art...

STRETCH GOAL ADDED: $800 – see below for details.

I am running this program as part of my internship for Community Ministry, with the Center for Earth Ethics, supporting indigenous rights and climate justice. My home congregation is the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, NY, my internship committee is at All Souls, NYC.

The Rampough Lenape are the original peoples of Connecticut, Rockland to southern New York and northern New Jersey. They are recognized by the state of New Jersey, but are not federally recognized, due to prejudice and racism. They continue to live in their ancestral lands and continue to experience encroachment by various entities. They have experienced toxic dumping on their lands which has caused cancer clusters and decimated many in the community.

Like many communities in the country, the Ramapough have had to deal with the effects of the opioid epidemic. The proposed after school program, Art & Literacy Lab, is a way to bring an educational program to the Ramapough youth, to allow them to process their concerns through literacy, art and creative expression and to create art connected to their Ramapough Lenape heritage.

The first session will begin with a small meal, followed by a sharing circle, where participants will discuss their interests in order for me to assess how to go forward. We will discuss how we will interact as community, setting norms or rules of engagement, in order to create a safe space. I will share with them my notebooks which demonstrate using art to create poetry. I will show them a selection of an image for them to respond to in writing. After they have written their response, they will share their observations for discussion. There will be individual work for students to choose literature from a variety of sources offered. The individual session will allow me to provide one on one support where needed. (Subsequent sessions will begin with a meal, sharing circle for check in and a sample piece of literature.)

A menu of options will be available for creative expression through writing, such as re-writing an ending, writing from another character’s perspective or changing one’s identity. Students could change a text to become a graphic novel, write a rap, continue journaling. Materials will be provided for drawing, painting, collage, modeling with clay. Use of DVD’s on history and culture will also be used in the program.

This program is a four-week, eight session program, two hours on Monday and Tuesday from 3:30-5:30. The program will begin in mid-March and end in mid-April. By the end of the program, students will have created a project to show to their families at the close.

I am a retired DOE teacher/administrator who has taught special education to Middle School students. The program will serve students from age 11-17. The funds raised will pay for books, journals, art materials, snacks for students and pay for gas and tolls to Mahwah, NJ from Westchester.

RAMAPOUGH Lenape NATION (MUNSEE)
March 6, 2019

To Whom It May Concern,
We at the Ramapough Lenape Community Center are looking forward to having an After-school program this spring. The Art and Literacy Lab will be a pilot program, six-weeks long, twelve sessions and will begin the work of providing an educational outlet for our middle to high school age students. I am looking forward to seeing our children engage in literacy and producing art work that they can be proud of as well as have the opportunity to engage in history and cultural practices. This is invaluable to our community and Mrs. Thombs is an experienced educator who will provide this program for us.
I heartily endorse The Art and Literacy Lab and am hoping that this program gets the funding support as it will greatly benefit our children.

Chief Dwaine Perry

Children’s Defense Fund...

Nowhere is the shadow of racism longer in American than when it comes to educational disparities. You can change this.

Our six-week, evidence-based program, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund, has been proven through rigorous research to improve literacy skills, build character and engage parents. During our first two summers, All Souls hosted the only CDF Freedom School in the state of Indiana. In 2017, we got 501(c)3 status, and in 2018 we launched a second site.

Thanks to our donors last year, 83% of our scholars experienced no summer-learning loss of gained literacy skills. Normally their peers would lose 2-3 months of reading ability; such summer learning loss, compounded year-after-year accounts for 50% of the achievement gap. Faithify is our single largest individual donor source. $125 covers the cost of a scholar’s program for one week. Thank you for helping us mitigate the educational disparity gap that keeps so many of our children behind.

There have been three waves of “Freedom Schools” in American history, and Unitarian Universalists have been part of all three. Northern whites, often women, went to the South soon after emancipation to teach formally-enslaved persons to read. Then in 1964, as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the National Council of Churches and SNCC formed summer “Freedom Schools,” focused specifically on literacy, humanities, science and math. These schools, often “taught” by white, northern college students, also had a larger purpose: to show young, Southern black Americans that they were valued and to engage them in community problem-solving.

The Children’s Defense Fund has initiated the third wave with the development a modern, evidence-based summer learning and family engagement model. The model retains the historical focus on offering a culturally-appropriate program designed to empower and promote civic engagement and literacy. The model is defined by five essential components:

  • High-quality academic enrichment, which includes age- and culturally-appropriate books that are part of an Integrated Reading Curriculum involving reinforcing activities, field trips and games.
  • Parent and family involvement at multiple levels, from morning introductory activities to classroom assistance to supporting community projects.
  • Social action and civic engagement by our children and youth so that they are prepared to be active citizens. Participants engage in solving community problems and do social justice work, including through a Children’s Defense Fund yearly National Day of Social Action.
  • Intergenerational servant leadership development, by engaging college students and recent graduates to deliver the program, many of whom have had Freedom School experience themselves.
  • Nutrition, health and mental health, by requiring programs to provide—at a minimum—two USDA-compliant meals and a snack each day of operation, while training staff to recognize the importance of providing therapeutic health and mental health services.

With your financial support, All Souls Unitarian Church would offer six-weeks of programming for 50 school-age children in summer 2019. Indianapolis has pervasive educational and opportunity disparities and our congregation sits in a high-need community. The church is in close proximity to two struggling public elementary schools. Robert Lee Frost is 87% African-American and over 80% free and reduced-price lunch. In 2014, only 51% of students passed both English and Math in ISTEP. Only 65% of students passed the IREAD-3. At Brook Park, 76% of students are African-American or Hispanic and over 76% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Only 52% passed ISTEP in 2014. Opportunity disparities in is high. Nearly 25% of individuals in the All Souls zip code (46226) live in poverty and nearly 40% of children live at or below the poverty level. We know from national-level research that poverty is correlated with fewer summer learning and other enrichment opportunities.

All Souls has already begun to build a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals committed to making a Freedom School a permanent fixture in Indianapolis. Our partners include, but are not limited to, the Indianapolis Freedom School Partnership (the umbrella organization we helped form), the neighborhood elementary schools near the church, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, neighborhood organizations, the League of Women Voters, the Indianapolis Public Library, and the education departments of Indiana University, Butler University, and Marion University.

“Indiana Black Expo, as the backbone support organization for the Your Life Matters Initiative, is in full support of All Souls’ endeavors with the development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis.” – Tanya Bell President & CEO Indiana Black Expo, Inc.

“The development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis is an important service and support for youth in the northeast part of our city. I applaud All Souls Unitarian Church for its vision and for making social justice visible for children who need a supportive community and gifts that participation in a Freedom School provides.” – Dr. Cindy Jackson, Positive Discipline Coordinator, IPS district, and member of the education committee of the Your Life Matters Task Force