Public Purpose in Action: The 2017 E.E. Ford Community Engagement Fellows

This summer, Rye Country Day School continued the Edward E. Ford Foundation Community Engagement Fellowship Program after a successful inaugural year in 2016. This program awards summer fellowships to high school students, enabling them to develop and implement innovative, sustainable projects that address community needs. Fellows collaborate with a community partner organization and an RCDS faculty mentor on all phases of the project. The goal of the program is to offer meaningful summer service opportunities for students and to foster ongoing partnerships between RCDS and local community organizations.

The 2017 cohort of fellows included 11 students working in partnership with seven community organizations across Westchester and Fairfield counties, including the Port Chester Carver Center, Building One Community, Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, The Nathaniel Witherell nursing care center, Columbus Elementary School, the New Rochelle Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Community Resource Center.

Each of the fellows developed an original program or project that would not have existed without their efforts. Examples included teaching ESL classes for parents at a local elementary school; providing innovative database management for a nonprofit serving immigrants; developing a program to teach math and social entrepreneurship skills through baking; helping residents at a local senior center use technology; creating a hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) enrichment program for girls; teaching computer coding classes at a community center; engaging in advocacy to make educational resources more accessible to immigrant families; and running sports and performing arts programs at local summer camps. Over the course of their projects, the students gained compassion and leadership skills while deepening their connections to their communities.  

The students will present their projects at the E.E. Ford Community Engagement Fellows Symposium on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall. All RCDS students, families, faculty, friends, and community partners are invited. Please RSVP here if you would like to attend.  

2017 Community Engagement Fellows

Kyle Christopher ’18

Community Partner: The Carver Center (Port Chester, NY)

The Port Chester Carver Center has been serving the community’s children and families since 1943. Carver’s mission is to build brighter futures by serving, educating, and empowering families in the community. Building off his previous volunteer work in Carver’s Tech Lab, Kyle worked with Josh Shapiro ’18 and computer science teachers from the Port Chester school district to create and teach a computer coding program for 10-to-14-year-old students in Carver’s summer camp program that aligns with the district’s computer curriculum. Kyle and Josh developed this project to share their love of coding with younger students in a fun and engaging way. 

Faculty Mentor: Kaori McManus

 

Joey Farrell ’19

Community Partner: The Nathaniel Witherell (Greenwich, Conn.)

The Nathaniel Witherell is a short-term rehab and skilled nursing care center that is owned and operated as a nonprofit by the Town of Greenwich. For his project, Joey helped residents at the Nathaniel Witherell connect with their families and friends through technology such as Skype, FaceTime, and video messaging, and provided individual instruction to help residents use technology to foster their interests and hobbies. Through this project, Joey hoped to use technology to help residents feel less isolated and more connected.

Faculty Mentor: Sarah Land

 

Alex Hackett ’19

Community Partner:  Building One Community (Stamford, Conn.)

Building One Community’s purpose is to help immigrants and their families succeed. Their programs include English language instruction, job skills training, personal support services, and more. Alex provided database management and IT support to enhance Building One Community’s services and programs, particularly in the areas of volunteer management and client job training. Having volunteered at Building One Community in the past, Alex developed this project as a way of using his expertise with computers to deepen his connection to the organization and create systems to enable them to gather and use data in the most efficient and beneficial way possible.

Faculty Mentor: Ryan Kopreski

 

Faith Hardy ’19

Community Partner: Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon (Mount Vernon, NY)

The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon is a youth development organization offering a variety of programs designed to help children learn and grow while having fun. The Boys & Girls Club runs multiple programs, including a summer camp. As a 2016 Community Engagement Fellow, Faith introduced a performing arts component into the summer program. Her 2017 fellowship project built upon last year’s successful program and developed it further into a more student-driven program. An avid singer, dancer, and actress, Faith wanted to expose students to all aspects of the performing arts while helping them discover their talents and work together toward a common goal.

Faculty Mentor: Jay Gerlach

 

Andrea Michaca ’18

Community Partner: Columbus Elementary School (New Rochelle, NY)

Columbus Elementary School serves approximately 850 students in grades K-5 in the City School District of New Rochelle. Having attended Columbus when she was in elementary school, Andrea saw a need for a program to offer English language instruction to parents at the school, many of whom are immigrants. For her project, Andrea created and taught an English as a Second Language (ESL) program for parents in the New Rochelle Community.

Faculty Mentor: Ileana Hernández Carafas

 

Angelica Michaca ’18

Community Partner: Department of Parks and Recreation (New Rochelle, NY)

 The New Rochelle Department of Parks and Recreation’s summer day camp program at Jefferson Elementary School offers sessions in sports, music, performing arts, and character building to elementary school students. Through the day camp, Angelica developed and ran a hands-on, interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program for girls. Angelica’s goal through this project was to make STEM more accessible to young women of color, who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields.

Faculty Mentor: Ofelia Marquez

 

Cole Price ’18

Community Partner: The Carver Center (Port Chester, NY)

The Port Chester Carver Center has been serving the community’s children and families since 1943. Carver’s mission is to build brighter futures by serving, educating, and empowering families in the community. As part of Carver’s summer camp program, Cole created and led a sports enrichment program for students of different ages. In this program, Cole aimed to help students develop their athletic skills, self-confidence, and teamwork through sports. 

Faculty Mentors: Gil Castagna and Steve Norman

 

Josh Shapiro '18 

Community Partner: The Carver Center (Port Chester, NY)

The Port Chester Carver Center has been serving the community’s children and families since 1943. Carver’s mission is to build brighter futures by serving, educating, and empowering families in the community. Building off his previous volunteer work in Carver’s Tech Lab, Josh worked with Kyle Christopher ’18 and computer science teachers from the Port Chester school district to create and teach a computer coding program for 10-to-14-year-old students in Carver’s summer camp program that aligns with the district’s computer curriculum. Josh and Kyle developed this project to share their love of coding with younger students in a fun and engaging way. 

Faculty Mentor: Kaori McManus

 

Sarah Walker ’18

Community Partner: The Carver Center (Port Chester, NY)

The Port Chester Carver Center has been serving the community’s children and families since 1943. Carver’s mission is to build brighter futures by serving, educating, and empowering families in the community. As part of Carver’s summer camp program, Sarah developed and taught a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) enrichment program for middle school students. Sarah’s goal for this project was to help students traditionally underrepresented in STEM learn about biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering through fun, hands-on experiments.

Faculty Mentor: Ryan Kopreski

 

Sofia Wilmer ’18

Community Partner: Community Resource Center (Mamaroneck, NY)

The Community Resource Center was founded in 1998 to help immigrants become self-sufficient and active members of the community through comprehensive direct client services and programs. Sofia’s project made educational resources and information more accessible to parents, particularly those who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Sofia helped create a library and resource area at CRC for students and families to access required summer reading materials and information about course placement in the local school district. Sofia created this project to ensure that all students in Mamaroneck, her home community, have equal access to educational opportunities and resources.

Faculty Mentor: Joan Kubisch

 

Helena Zimmerman '19

Community Partner: The Carver Center (Port Chester, NY)

The Port Chester Carver Center has been serving the community’s children and families since 1943. Carver’s mission is to build brighter futures by serving, educating, and empowering families in the community. For her project, Helena created and led a program called Counting Cupcakes, which taught math and social entrepreneurship skills to students through baking. Helena’s goal for this project was to share some of her passions and creativity with students while teaching them important skills that will be useful to them throughout their lives.

Faculty Mentor: Lauris Khan