Citizenship Spotlight: 2019 Edward E. Ford Foundation Community Engagement Fellowship Program

The Edward E. Ford Foundation Community Engagement Fellowship Program at Rye Country Day School, now in its fourth year, enables RCDS Upper School students to partner with a community organization to develop and implement innovative, sustainable projects that address the needs of the organization. The Upper School students who are accepted as Community Engagement Fellows spend the summer completing their service projects at community partner organizations with funding provided by the Edward E. Ford Foundation and the RCDS community. This allows community organizations to benefit from the students' enthusiasm and passion at no cost, and it enables Upper School students from all socioeconomic backgrounds with a commitment to public purpose to participate.

The 2019 cohort of fellows includes 14 students working in partnership with 10 organizations across Westchester and New York City including Backyard Sports, The Port Chester Carver Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, Community Resource Center, DreamYard, The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, New York League of Conservation Voters, Our New Way Garden, The Thomas H. Slater Center, and Westchester Children's Museum.

The Edward E. Ford Foundation Community Engagement Fellowship Program grew out of the Public Purpose Initiative, and it affirms the RCDS motto of 'Not for Self, but for Service' as it nurtures students' potential to lead lives of meaningful community engagement. It has been inspiring to watch our students make outstanding contributions to their organizations. They are exemplary representatives of the School's deep commitment to public purpose and service. We greatly appreciate the generous support of the Edward E. Ford Foundation and the RCDS community that makes this inspiring program possible.

- Scott Nelson, Headmaster

Launched in 2016 with a generous $50,000 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation, which was matched by donations from the Rye Country Day School community, the program was conceived out of a recognition of the importance of purpose-driven citizenship. The program's goal is to offer summer service opportunities for students and to foster ongoing partnerships between RCDS and local community organizations. Fellows collaborate with community partner organizations and RCDS faculty members on all phases of their projects, with faculty offering cross-disciplinary guidance as the fellows chart their paths to active community engagement. Community and academic partnerships are at the heart of this program, and a commitment to service is the fellows' guiding principle as they bring together innovation, hard work, interdisciplinary thought, awareness, empathy, and decision-making skills to propose, design, and implement impressive purpose-driven projects.

Throughout the spring, the fellows prepared for their summer projects by participating in a series of seminars exploring service learning models and best practices and awareness in community service. Students engaged in conversations about systemic social inequality to better appreciate the missions and value of their community partner organizations. They also reflected on their own identities and the communities with whom they will partner in order to ensure thoughtful, mutually beneficial relationships. With this preparation complete, students are ready to experience the full value of service learning as they gain compassion and leadership skills while deepening their community connection. A list of the 2019 fellows and their projects follows, and we plan to share updates from individual fellows throughout the summer.

The students will present their projects at the E.E. Ford Community Engagement Fellows Symposium on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall. All RCDS students, families, faculty, friends, and community partners are invited to attend.


2019 Community Engagement Fellows

Eliza Fogel '21

Partner: Westchester Children's Museum, Rye N.Y.
Project: Eliza will be leading a children's literacy program for children who visit the museum.
Faculty Mentor: Stacy Kaufman, Lower School Teacher (Grade 4)

Christopher Connor '20

Partners: Backyard Sports, White Plains, N.Y., The Thomas H. Slater Center, White Plains, N.Y., The Port Chester Carver Center, Port Chester, N.Y., The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Project: Continuing from last summer's project, Connor will work with Backyard Sports build gaga pits at the Carver Center and The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, and he will expand the programming at The Thomas H. Slater Center to include gaga, yoga, and other activities.
Faculty Mentor: Iain Pollock, Upper School English Teacher

Peggy Helman '20

Partner: New York League of Conservation Voters, New York, N.Y.
Project: Peggy will conduct research on the levels of lead found in the pipes of Westchester County and New York broadly, analyzing the findings so the NYLCV can run an educational campaign to publicize the results.
Faculty Mentor: Kerry Linderoth, Director of Sustainability; Upper and Middle School Science Teacher


Anna Owens '21 & Oliver Kies '21

Partner: Community Resource Center, Mamaroneck, N.Y.Project: Building on a previous Fellow's project, Anna and Oliver will build new shelves, and reorganize the Reading Nook with a new organizational system, making it easier for young people to pick books while visiting the CRC.
Faculty Mentor: Iain Pollock, Upper School English Teacher


Sebastian Lee '20 & Charumathi Badrinath '20

Partner: Our New Way Garden, White Plains, N.Y.
Project: Sebastian and Charumathi are revamping the website for ONWG including building a new online volunteer management system, and working on-site repairing the infrastructure.
Faculty Mentor: Amanda Sackey, Middle School Science Teacher

Wendy Corona '20

Partner: The Port Chester Carver Center, Port Chester, N.Y.
Project: Wendy will organize and lead a STEM camp for students.
Faculty Mentor: Cathie Bischoff, Science Department Chair; STEAM Coordinator; Upper School Science Teacher



Isabella Dartnell '20 & Caroline Antonacci '20

Partner: The Port Chester Carver Center, Port Chester, N.Y.
Project: Isabella and Caroline will organize and lead a STEM camp with a "girls empowerment" theme.
Faculty Mentor: Jen Doran, Upper School Science Teacher

Samantha Roskind '21

Partner: New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital
Project: Partnering with children from the hospital, Samantha will create a children's book about heart conditions that will be sold as a fundraiser for research.
Faculty Mentor: Joanne Aventuro, Lower School Teacher (Grade 3)

Eesha Narain '21

Partner: The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Project: Building on her experience from last summer's Fellowship, Eesha will lead a dance camp. This year, the camp will also include a drama/acting component.
Faculty Mentor: Tameka Farrell, Upper School Science Teacher

Isabel Stronski '20

Partner: DreamYard, Bronx, N.Y.
Project: Isabel will facilitate an athletic-based women's empowerment program for children in the community.
Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Bennett, Athletics Office Administrator; Coach

Chidera Olewuenyi '20

Partner: Carver Center, Port Chester, N.Y.
Project: Chidera will lead a dance camp for kids at the Carver Center, building on a previous fellow's project.
Faculty Mentor: Tia Gueye, Upper School Mathematics Department Chair; Middle and Upper School Mathematics Teacher