Activate Schools is the educational program created by Activate Good to connect community and leadership to the classroom. Within the Activate Schools program the Community Leadership & Service course teaches high school students about current issues and presents them with opportunities to get involved at a local level. The comprehensive curriculum was designed to engage youth through a project-based learning approach. The lessons provide real-world scenarios and are linked to the common core learning standards for high school students. The Activate Schools Community Leadership & Service course has been successfully implemented as an elective in local area high schools including Broughton, East Wake and the North Carolina School of Science and Math. For the 2012 – 2013 academic year all freshmen at the new Wake Young Women’s and Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academies are currently enrolled in the course. These academies are based on leadership models that encourage each student to make a positive impact in their community. A natural partnership formed between Activate Schools and the Wake Leadership Academies based on mutual goals to empower youth and foster leadership development.
The Activate Schools curriculum guides students to explore the root causes behind social issues and conduct assessments of community needs on both a global and local level. Students learn to recognize their own leadership styles and to strengthen their critical thinking skills. The course is designed in a way that enables the students to communicate with community partners, identify causes they connect with and propose a viable solution to current issues. The Service Proposal project at the end of the course is a culmination of all topics covered throughout the duration of the class. It is an opportunity for students to take what they have learned and incorporate their own ideas as they propose a solution to an issue in our local community. The proposals are shared during a service fair where audience members are invited to evaluate and vote on the projects. Each semester Activate Good offers a $250 mini-grant to the class in order for the students to carry out the proposal that receives the majority of votes.
2012 Service Project Fair at the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy
The students at the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy worked in small groups to create original proposals that effectively summarized a current need and proposed an achievable solution. Prior to the service fair the students worked both in and outside of class to research causes, contact local organizations and identify action steps given a budget of $250. On November 16th the class hosted a service fair to share their proposals. Approximately 15 members from the local community attended the service fair event. Audience members included school administrators, volunteers from Activate Good and representatives from local organizations. On the day of the fair the students proudly displayed the highlights of their proposals on tri-fold boards set up in the hallways of the freshman wing. Guests were given a scoring rubric to use as they walked through the projects listening to presentations and asking questions. The students brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm towards their projects. They took ownership, were passionate and gave careful consideration to each element of their proposals.
At the completion of the fair representatives from Activate Good tallied the audience rubrics in order to determine the winning project. Activate Good’s president Amber Smith presented students from the winning group with a check for $250. The proposal that received the highest amount of audience votes was an idea to create an on-campus recycling program that would not only benefit the high school but also the nearby middle school located on the same campus. The students who created this proposal successfully identified a current need, allocated funds under budget and proposed an idea that was both achievable and sustainable. As part of the curriculum all students in the class will work together to develop the campus recycling program during the school-wide day of service on December 18th. Using the $250 grant, the students who created the winning proposal will purchase supplies and lead their peers in setting up the program and educating others throughout the school. The class plans to continue the recycling program by sharing responsibilities for collection and drop-off of the recycling bins.
It is truly inspiring to see youth collaborating to make a positive impact in their community. The students have learned to see themselves as leaders at a young age and have recognized the value of volunteerism. The class will spend the last week of the semester completing a portfolio of their coursework and reflecting on service in their lives beyond this course. As the students contemplate the importance of volunteerism, we should all take a moment to think about opportunities to share our time and our own unique skills with others. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Wake Women’s Academy in the future and are excited for the upcoming Wake Men’s Academy Service Fair that will take place in the spring!To volunteer with the Activate Schools committee or attend future events, please contact Rachel Kokos at Rachel@activategood.org or Ruishon Patterson @ Ruishon@activategood.org.