Ten Years Ago, Today

Growth and progress feel so slow when you’re impatient to achieve a goal. That’s why it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I first set out on this path. Ten years that now feel, in retrospect, like they flew by. A third of my life. A third. In many ways I still feel like a child, wandering around, guessing at right answers, trying until I get it right, and often flopping. And in many other ways I feel like a wise old soul, looking back fondly (and with some amusement) at my fumbling 21 year old self. The one who put off going back to school to take off on a life-changing journey to change the world. On September 2, 2004 — exactly ten years ago — my best friend Heather and I stepped into my 2003 Chevy Cavalier, packed to the brim with clothing and foodstuffs, and drove west. The Volunteer Road Trip Before Facebook and Twitter were things, before either of us had any sense of nonprofit marketing or budgeting or fundraising, we left with about a thousand dollars in our collective pocket on a road trip around the country to do good. Glowing with idealism, we defined our mission: To change the world by spreading the message that people should help each other and causes in need. We’d do this by volunteering in every state we visited, learning from nonprofit and community leaders as we went, while proclaiming to strangers and friends we encountered along the way that if everyone rose up to get involved, we could truly alter humanity’s course. We drove west...

Improving Learning Outcomes: The Helps Education Fund

The Helps Education Fund uses an apple in their logo because it is an international symbol of teaching, often representing growth and the need for nurturing, as well as the wisdom passed from teachers to students. The apple also signifies variety and change. Instead of the traditional red apple associated with teaching and the excellent work of teachers, the Helps Education Fund uses a green apple to symbolize that educators and students still need support in a variety of ways. According to national statistics, 33% of children in elementary school cannot read at even a basic level and 66% cannot read at a proficient level. When children do not develop basic academic skills, their academic, work, and life opportunities are significantly limited. The Helps Education Fund works to change these statistics by offering research-supported educational resources to teachers so that their students will have better learning outcomes. John Begeny, the nonprofit’s Executive Director, explained: There are too many students who fail to meet even basic learning goals, so the overall mission of the Helps Education Fund is to continue providing free and research-supported programs, services, and professional development to the thousands of hard-working educators who are dedicated to improving the lives of children and their communities. Programs Offered to Educators In the first two years they were in operation, they were able to provide their services to over 15,000 educators and parents. The organization’s Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) Program aims to improve literacy among early readers by providing teachers with materials that improve students’ reading skills. The HELPS program is available for teachers to incorporate into their curriculums...

School’s Out for the Summer: Summer Volunteer Opportunities for Kids!

School’s out, but kids these days have so much to keep them occupied that you probably don’t hear them complain “I’m bored!” a couple of weeks into summer vacation. With texting, the Internet, Netflix and video games, kids can keep themselves entertained most of the time. The downside is that all of those activities involve staring at a screen. Check out some of these summer volunteer opportunities for kids and show they can have fun without their electronics. Be a Field Gleaner Get some fresh air and let the kids see first-hand where vegetables come from by volunteering as a field gleaner. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle works with farmers in the Triangle to harvest their extra crops so that low-income families can have fresh produce. Volunteers are needed to help pick the vegetables at local farms. Dates and times vary, but expect to spend 2-3 hours harvesting crops plus additional time for travel and deliveries. Kids under six need one adult per child. 7-11 year-olds need one adult for each group of three. Teens from 12-18 need one adult per group of ten. Help out Wags 4 Tags Wags 4 Tags pairs animals rescued from shelters with Veterans “so that the two can heal in unconditional love, trust and loyalty.” They have events throughout the Triangle to raise awareness and funds. Volunteers are needed to help set up and break down the booths as well as speak about the organization’s mission and services. Volunteers under 13 will need a supervisor, but those 17 and older do not. The organization also needs creative types to paint rain barrels, canvases and...
Activating Schools: WYWLA girls serve and lead

Activating Schools: WYWLA girls serve and lead

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...
The Teacher I Always Wanted To Be

The Teacher I Always Wanted To Be

By James Jolley, teacher Activate Good’s Community Leadership & Service class  I became a teacher to do some good. My goal was to create an atmosphere that inspired and equipped students to make a better life for themselves, but it wasn’t until I partnered with Activate Good that I realized that I could activate a similar passion to do good within my students.   I had the pleasure of piloting the course, “Community Leadership and Service” at East Wake School of Integrated Technology in Wendell, NC. My class of 27 students explored both the exhilarating and challenging moments that go along with working to improve the community. Individually, students served in soup kitchens, tutored elementary school students, participated in blood drives, and registered fellow students to vote, and as a class, students designed and implemented a project during which they mentored 5th graders about how to make good decisions as they head into middle school. It was beautiful to watch my students develop into confident leaders with a clear sense that they can change things for the better. Here are some of the quotes from students throughout the class: • Janetta – “This class gave us a chance to take what we learned and put it into our real life. Unlike math or science, when we learn in this class we can go out the next day and actually accomplish this.” • Rose – “In the future, I will be more optimistic and open towards community service. I know that I can change things if they need to be changed.” • Justin – “This class helped us learn life...