Photos: MLK Day at McMichael Elementary with Starbucks!

For the past two years, YouthBuild Philly staff and students have commemorated the legacy of Dr. King on MLK Day by repainting elementary schools (see 2013, 2014 posts).  Last Monday, we continued this tradition by repainting the hallways, stairways, gym and auditorium at McMichael Elementary in the Mantua section of the city.  In some of the school’s classrooms, volunteers also created blankets and care packages for Philadelphians in need.

For this year’s project we proudly partnered with local Starbucks locations, whose employees joined us at McMichael Elementary.  You’ll see them working hard in the photos below – they’re in the green shirts.  We’ve had volunteer days with Starbucks employees in the past, and every project generates new relationships and ideas.  We are grateful to them for helping us improve the McMichael facilities, and excited to continue working with them as a service and employment partner!

YouthBuild Philly highlighted in national service/education report

Last month, America’s Promise Alliance released a report on The Role of National Service in Closing the Graduation Gap.”  This report coincided with the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, which since 1994 has connected volunteers to community needs, including educational attainment and access to quality education.

Much of the report focuses on how outside volunteers have helped students succeed in US schools and increased the national graduation rate. However, the report also pointed out that community service and volunteering can help older students stay motivated and connected to their school through a renewed sense of self and purpose.  The report highlighted YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild Philly in particular, incorporating quotes from Simran Sidhu and Dorothy Stoneman on why service is a cornerstone of the YouthBuild model:

“Providing service in communities, making a difference, producing something of value has a profound influence on self-respect, identity and the career choices young people make — especially when they are in a group that has been considered worthless. For young men of color, it has  a huge impact to be visible on the street doing something positive and tangible for  their community — building affordable housing for their own neighborhoods.”

– Dorothy Stoneman, Founder and CEO, YouthBuild USA

“This kind of tangible service changes our students’ relationship with the community so that they go from being the problem to being the problem-solvers.  Our students wear their hard hats and tool belts because they want to be seen in them.  they’re so proud. ”

– Simran Sidhu, Executive Director, YouthBuild Philly

 

The report also noted that youth who volunteer are more likely to find employment and less likely to disconnect.  Studies of YouthBuild programs, also summarized in the report, found that members who completed a year of AmeriCorps service were twice as likely to go to college as those who did not complete the year, and five times more likely to attend college than non-AmeriCorps members.  There’s a lot to gain by giving back.

IMG_0977

Read the summary and full report here.

Philly AmeriCorps Launch 2013

Last month, YouthBuild Philly joined other AmeriCorps programs and service partners for a celebration and ceremony kicking of a year of service for current AmeriCorps members in the Philadelphia region.

AmeriCorps is an important part of our program and a valued partner in the YouthBuild movement.  Many of our staff are full-time AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps VISTAs, and all of our students are part-time AmeriCorps members who provide hundreds of hours of service over the course of their year at YouthBuild.

City and service partners gathered on September 27th at City Hall for the official launch and swearing-in ceremony, which included a recitation of the AmeriCorps Pledge:

I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.

We thank Philly’s AmeriCorps members for their commitment to service, and wish them a wonderful and rewarding year!

YouthBuild student goes to Chicago for National Conference on Volunteering and Service

Class of 2012 student Tahir Ingram (who you may remember from this Q&A back in October)  has received a First Place recognition for the YouthBuild AmeriCorps Award for Outstanding Community Service.  This award identifies students from YouthBuild programs across the country who have excelled in their service as AmeriCorps members during their time as YouthBuild students.  As a first place winner of the award, Tahir was able to attend the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago, Il from June 18 to 20.

“The panel felt that Tahir embodies a commitment to service, shows a willingness to take initiative and go above and beyond what is expected, and, through his actions, has a clear positive impact on his program and his community,” said Jill Graham, the AmeriCorps Portfolio Manager for YouthBuild USA, which serves as an intermediary for AmeriCorps and other funding to YouthBuild programs nationwide.

YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School is an alternative education program for former high school dropouts.  In addition to the school’s academic and vocational training requirements, students must also complete at least 675 hours of volunteer service as AmeriCorps members in order to graduate.  Upon completion of their service hours, students are eligible for an AmeriCorps education award of $2,100 towards their education after YouthBuild.

Tahir and his squad leader, Jose

Tahir, 20, will graduate in August having completed the school’s academic and vocational training requirements, as well as more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service. His service in Philadelphia has included time spent volunteering as a coach for a youth gymnastics program and at local hunger relief organization Philabundance; additionally, Tahir was selected along with other YouthBuild Philadelphia students earlier in the year to be part of a service learning trip to Utuado, Puerto Rico where the group cleared trails for an organic coffee farm.  He enjoyed attending the National Conference on Volunteering and Service this week with other volunteers from around the country and “being around people with a similar drive and aspiration.”

Tahir and classmates at Philabundance

“I like to help people and feel like I’m making a difference,” said Tahir, noting that he’d been volunteering in Philadelphia prior to attending YouthBuild.  His service sites and fellow volunteers “felt like a family” to him.  He plans to attend Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pa in the fall, where he will study architecture.  In addition to focusing on his studies, he hopes to be involved at Thaddeus Stevens in student leadership, peer tutoring, and other campus activities.