Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. – Martin Luther King, Jr., 1947
On Monday, YouthBuild Philly students, staff and partners joined forces for a painting and building maintenance project at William H. Ziegler Elementary in Northeast Philadelphia. This was YouthBuild Philly’s fifth consecutive year taking over an elementary school on MLK Day to do facility improvements.
Ziegler Elementary is a K-8 public school serving over 500 students from the surrounding Northeast Neighborhood. According to their principal, the school has not received any significant facility improvements in over eight years. In spite of this, the school is a welcoming space where student work is prominently displayed in the hallways and a sense of community permeates the hallways.
To support the efforts of Ziegler’s hardworking staff, YouthBuild volunteers added 65 new murals to the school hallways, staircases, gym and auditorium, installed Solar Gard on the lunchroom windows to reduce solar glare and heat (the same product used in YouthBuild’s Language Arts classrooms), reorganized the school library, and built portable stairwells to make the school’s stage more accessible.
In addition to school improvement projects, some volunteers assembled literacy packets and care packages for distribution to local nonprofits that work with students and the homeless.
“We pride ourselves on being a year-round AmeriCorps service organization, but days like this give our entire school community a deeper connection to the spirit of service because of Dr. King’s mission.” said YouthBuild Philly Director of Student Life Ameen Akbar. Mr. Akbar oversees YouthBuild Philly’s AmeriCorps and service learning programs.
A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into making sure that volunteer projects have maximum impact. The full-time AmeriCorps members in YouthBuild Philly’s Student Life department oversaw the planning, preparation, and execution of the project – from initial outreach to Ziegler, to stenciling the murals, and organizing volunteer assignments.
Volunteers from our partner organizations – Saint-Gobain, Starbucks, TD Bank, DMi Partners, Rising Queens, Bike & Build, and Hope Partnership for Education – worked alongside YouthBuild students to complete the projects. Additionally Solar Gard (a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain) donated the materials needed to tint lunchroom windows and make the space more comfortable. Thanks to all our partners and volunteers for donating their time — because of you, we were able to make an even bigger difference for this awesome school!
See more photos from the project in our slideshow: