Archive for the Community Partners Category

Mentoring with MMYC

Posted in Community Partners, student projects with tags , , , on April 11, 2011 by JB Brager

The most recent and profound mentoring experience I have had was at the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center in Riverdale, Maryland. A friend of mine informed me of the opportunity to work with high school students who are applying to college. I was asked to share my story with the students at MMYC before the workshop. I conveyed to them that even with dismal financial circumstances, it is possible to go to college without enormous student loans looming after graduation. I explained that as a senior in high school, I faced several obstacles. First of all, my guidance counselor told me I would not be accepted by University of Maryland because SAT scores were not high enough. After raising my scores, I applied to the University and was accepted a few months later. The next obstacle was how to pay for college. By late spring, I had applied for a total of sixty scholarships. At the awards ceremony at the end of the school year, I received only four scholarships. However, those four financed about ninety percent of my tuition. I hoped the group of students would be inspired by my story and hopefully follow on the same path.

During the workshop, I was grouped with two young ladies who would soon finish a GED program with MMYC. Immediately, I was struck by their determination to succeed. After about an hour of talking with them, I learned that both girls became mothers at only sixteen and twenty. They spoke about the struggles of raising a child while trying to complete an education and the financial strain they felt to provide for their children. My heart was heavy when I heard their stories, especially because my own sister is just sixteen. However, their dedication and attitude inspired me in a new way. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had ever had the opportunity to talk and be listened to. I felt a lot of compassion for these girls and wanted to guide them to their goals.

Throughout the course of the workshop, I worked with them to write personal essays for a local scholarship to a two year vocational school of their choosing. The two girls were on two completely different career paths. One wanted to be a social worker after working as an assistant in the local Department of Social Services office. She was inspired to help the local hispanic community due to the help she received from community organizations after her daughter was born. The other student wanted to become a sonogram technician because of a particularly helpful and inspiring nurse she met during her pregnancy. She explained being a sonogram technician makes people happy by revealing what gender their child will be. I was impressed with the way the girls had been inspired to pursue careers based on those who helped them during perhaps the most difficult chapter of their lives. I started thinking about the idea that we are driven to certain things because of our experiences with people who we see as role models. I hoped that they would not soon forget their experiences in this workshop. By the end of the night, they both thanked me profusely and hugged me goodbye.

This experience was one of the best of my entire life. I often think about the students I met and hope that they find their way. The idea that I could help these students was incredibly fulfilling. Additionally, inspiring young women, especially those who have faced adversity, is something I am interested in pursuing in the future.
Grace Toulotte, Class of 2011,  Studio Art


Community Service-Learning VISTA position

Posted in Community Partners, CSL with tags , , , on March 9, 2011 by JB Brager

2011-2012 MDCC-VISTA
Community Service-Learning Coordinator

Community Service-Learning (CSL), a part of the Leadership & Community Service-Learning unit in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, engages students at the University of Maryland in meaningful community service-learning with the local community through resources, programs, and events. CSL strives to educate students about the root causes of pressing social issues while making a meaningful and immediate difference in the local community.
The MDCC-VISTA Community Service-Learning Coordinator at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) will work with the Northwestern Connection program and Center for Educational Partnerships program to increase educational attainment and decrease drop-out rates of middle and high school students at two local schools. The VISTA will provide organizational structure and avenues to connect UMCP students with tutoring and mentoring programs geared towards Northwestern High School (NWHS) and William Wirt Middle School students, both within two miles of the University.

This VISTA position addresses the need for “cradle-through-college” solutions by helping to grow the seeds planted through the great work accomplished by the University of Maryland chapter of America Read*America Counts in Prince George’s County elementary schools, through middle and high school, towards the goal of college matriculation.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Foster relationships and strengthen communication between the University of Maryland and Northwestern High School and William Wirt Middle School, through the Northwestern Connection program and Center for Educational Partnerships, respectively.
  • Provide organizational structure and avenues to connect UMCP students with tutoring and mentoring programs geared towards Northwestern High School and William Wirt Middle School students.
  • Regularly convene Northwestern Connection Steering Committee of UMCP and NWHS stakeholders.
  • Conduct regular site visits to Northwestern Connection and Center for Educational Partnerships programs.
  • Develop and implement method for assessment for Northwestern Connection and Center for Educational Partnerships programs.
  • Assess drop-out, graduate, and college matriculation rates of students at NWHS.
  • Collecting and analyzing program evaluation data, including regular reflection and evaluation with community partners.
  • Working in collaboration with CSL students and staff on program recruitment, trainings and workshops.
  • Participating as an active member of the Leadership and Community-Service Learning staff team.

This is a 12-month Americorps*VISTA position that begins in August 2011.

The monthly stipend for this VISTA position is $1,163. Upon completing the 12-months of service, the person in this position can choose to receive either an education award worth $5,350 to pay for further education, or $1,500 cash. This position reports directly to the Coordinator for Leadership & Community Service-Learning.

Preferred candidates will have a degree in education, community development, sociology, public policy, human development, or closely related field and experience in one or more of the following areas: service-learning/community service, working with college students, working with community partners, training and program development, leadership development, working with diverse populations. Excellent communication and organizational skills required.  Spanish language proficiency strongly encouraged.
To apply:

Send resume, cover letter, and names and telephone numbers of three references to:
Mei-Yen Hui
Leadership & Community Service-Learning
0110 Stamp Union
College Park, MD 20742.
Fax: 301-314-9634
Feel free to direct questions to Mei-Yen Hui, Coordinator for Leadership & Community Service-Learning,, 301-314-0068.
The University of Maryland is an EEO/AA employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Submit to the Community Service-Learning at UMD blog

Posted in Community Partners, CSL with tags , , , on February 9, 2011 by umdcsl

This blog is open to University of Maryland students, faculty, and staff, as well as community partners. I hope that this blog becomes a chorus of voices, with posts by individuals involved in all the aspects and ends of service, about the issues we are passionate about and our experiences working particularly with service-learning. I hope it will serve as an online space of community as well as exposing individuals to the idea of service.

Blog posts should be between 300 and 1,000 words, and ideally would also include visuals such as pictures or youtube videos, links to volunteer sites, etc. Posts should be e-mailed to jbrager [at], and can be sent anytime.

Questions to think about:

Are you passionate about social change? Do you have a cause that you want to get more people involved in? Have you had a volunteer experience that moved you or changed your mind about something?

If you are a volunteer:
What was your service experience? What was unique and especially moving about it?
What did you learn from this experience? How did your perspective change and what are you doing as a result?
Why did you get involved, and why should others get involved?
How can others get involved with this issue or project?
What would you like to tell others about community service?
Do you ever relate your volunteerism to your coursework for school? If so, how?

If you work with a community agency:
What social issues do you work with?
What are you personally passionate about? How did you get involved and what kind of work do you do?
Why do you like working with University students?
What do you wish they knew?

Thank you!

UMD Students Help with NFI Community Garden for Terp Service Kickoff

Posted in Community Partners with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2010 by umdcsl

On Sunday, September 26th, twelve students from University of Maryland braved gloomy weather and giant mud puddles to help out our urban farm at the Mamie D Lee Community Garden in Ward 5. They worked on plots managed by my organization, the Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI), a nonprofit started in 2008 to improve access to healthy food, farm and garden education, and under-utilized green space to residents in the District.

Despite being novices to the world of organic farming, the UMD students were enthusiastic and interested. They asked great questions (“Do you release any natural predators onto the farm?” “What nutrients do cover crops put back into the soil?” “Do you really go to the bathroom in the woods?!”) and accomplished an enormous amount in only a few hours.

They helped us transition the land from summer to winter production in plots that were used to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and herbs this summer. This is no easy feat, involving hours of digging the soil, picking out stubborn and thick weeds, turning the soil, and raking it smooth. Then we planted a cover crop (a mixture of buckwheat, peas, and vetch) that will grow and replenish nutrients in the soil for sustained production next spring and summer. The group also weeded plots of lettuces, radishes, bok choi, collared greens, kale, and squash.

The highlight of the day: the students harvested 10 sweet potatoes! Some were as tiny as golf balls, while others could have been mistaken for misshapen footballs. The sweet potatoes, as well as radishes, and peppers harvested by the UMD students amounted to almost 10 pounds of food, all of which was donated to Food and Friends, a nonprofit organization that cooks healthy meals for people with life-challenging illnesses.

I was worried that hours of digging and weeding in light rain and muddy soil wouldn’t be the ideal way for our volunteers to spend a Sunday. But the students said they actually enjoyed getting outside and working with their hands – it was a nice release from the whirl of classes, papers, and all-nighters – and they wanted to come back again. It was a pleasure working with these intelligent, eager, and good-natured individuals and I hope they, and any other UMD students, come back and visit our farm again soon!

–Kat Bawden
Neighborhood Farm Initiative