Eight community organizations from across the nation were recognized today at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, California for developing innovative models to scale STEM mentorship and maker-centered learning experiences for students in low-income communities.
People know me as the shy girl, the mute. But I want others to know that I am more than just shy. This is not who I really am, and Citizen Schools knows it’s not who I am. I have always had a fear of public speaking, and my mom always told me that it was just a phase. She, too, was shy and reclusive, but now she's a social butterfly. I hope to become more social like her to some extent. I just don't know where to start. My Citizen Schools writing coach told me that being scared to talk in public is all in my head and it's nothing to be afraid of. I use that advice everyday to help me in speak up in groups.
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION has announced its first full budget, which calls for the elimination of federal funding for after-school and summer programs for low-income communities, known as 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
This cut would have drastic effects for working families. Federal funding for after-school programming supports 1.1 million students nationwide. An overwhelming body of evidence says that these programs help to close the opportunity gap in education, increase student academic and behavioral outcomes, and reduce school absences.
In the past year, our programming has continued to demonstrate measurable impact in academic growth and achievement, helping to narrow the opportunity gap in our schools. This report includes key national and regional results, as well as introductions to just a few of the many supporters, volunteers and Americorps members who help make it possible for middle schoolers across the country to discover and achieve their dreams.
Winter marks a set of important anniversaries for Citizen Schools: the anniversary of our incorporation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1995; the anniversary of Black History Month, which offers the country an important reminder of the perseverance and resilience necessary to forge a more just and equitable society; and, now, my first year anniversary as our CEO. I am proud to stand on the shoulders of giants in fulfilling our mission to close opportunity gaps to restore economic mobility in this country - and every student’s shot at the American Dream.
Since our earliest days at Citizen Schools, we have invested in rigorous external evaluation to understand the impact of our program on students, school communities, and Citizen Schools volunteers, and to identify the priority areas for improvement. Today marks an important milestone in this commitment. We are pleased to release the final report of a five-year external evaluation of the Citizen Schools national Expanded Learning Time (ELT) initiative, conducted by Abt Associates.
It’s the time of year when students and their families are settling into their back to school routines. For many of our children, the school year is enriched with plenty of time with adult mentors and enrichment activities. Unfortunately, many lower-income students do not have those same opportunities. TisBest Philanthropy partner charity Citizen Schools works to close that gap by providing relevant instruction with an extended learning day in schools across the country. We talked to Emily McCann, CEO of Citizen Schools about how the organization is making a difference.
Who does your organization help? We help middle school students in low-income communities realize their potential, allowing them to discover and achieve their dreams.
How do you help them? We expand a middle school’s learning day by connecting a team of adults to provide relevant learning experiences that give students the skills, access and beliefs they need to succeed as students and thrive as adults. We mobilize a team of AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellows and volunteer “Citizen Teachers,” to provide academic support and unique 10-week apprenticeships that focus on relevant, real-world opportunities that build 21st-century skills.
Why was your organization founded? Students in upper-income families spend 300 more hours each year with adults than do the three million students in lower-income families. Upper-income students also benefit from almost $8,000 worth of enrichment activities yearly—robotics camp, piano lessons, academic tutoring, and more. By 6th grade, the middle and upper-income students will have likely spent 6,000 more hours learning than the lower-income students. Citizen Schools was started as a response to that gap. We provide schools with resources to extend the school day, with the intent of closing that gap.
What can your organization do with $30? A $30 donation could provide school supplies starter kits to 15 students, or purchase supplies kits for 3-5 STEM apprenticeships.
What is the best non-stuff gift that you have personally received? DonorsChoose.org (Editor’s note: DonorsChoose.org is also a TisBest Philanthropy selected charity!) is an organization that was founded by Charles Best, a student of my father’s. He actually talked about my dad when he was on Oprah, and cited him as the reason he started DonorsChoose.org. The website allows teachers to crowdfund resources for their classrooms, usually for an exciting project that isn’t in their budget. Every year during the holidays, my family members will endow a project on each other’s behalf. It’s really wonderful to make the donation and receive letters from the teachers and the students in their classes, telling you about the projects and what they learned.
If someone received a TisBest Charity Gift Card, why should they consider your charity for their donation? We don’t like to think of ourselves as a charity, per se. We’re teachers, mentors, role models and cheerleaders. We’re there to support these kids as they work hard to achieve their goals, whether that’s improving their math grade this year or graduating high school or going to college. No dream is too small or too big for our students. By donating to Citizen Schools, you’re expanding our capacity to reach more kids that are in danger of falling through the cracks in their public school systems. One more kid building robots after school with a Citizen Schools mentor means one less kid whose school day ends when the bell rings. Citizen Schools students are nearly 50 percent more likely to enroll in college, compared to their peers. Help us expand our programs to make high school and college a possibility for all of them.
Tell us about a unique way your charity has impacted someone. As a 6th grader, MacCalvin Romain participated in a citizen schools program and learned to build a computer. Later, as a senior marketing analyst for DigitasLBi, MacCalvin lead a partnership between his employer and Citizen Schools, teaching computer programming once a week. During his time as a Citizen Teacher, not only was MacCalvin a recipient of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, one of his students earned a spot at the White House Science Fair for a video game she built while participating in his apprenticeship. MacCalvin is just one example of the type of community engagement we’re striving for. Once a mentee, now a mentor, MacCalvin’s dedication to serving his community continues through his career
What is something people might be surprised to learn about your organization or the people or mission that it serves? There’s this idea that kids don’t like school, especially math and science. We have found this not to be true, in any way. They just aren’t engaged by the way these subjects are traditionally taught. The beauty of our apprenticeship programs is that we’re not hiding the learning, we’re not pretending that it’s not school. It’s the type of learning that excites and motivates the kids to keep working.
For more information about Citizen Schools and how you can help visit www.CitizenSchools.org. To learn more about TisBest Philanthropy, Charity Gift Cards, and our charity partners please visit www.TisBest.org.