Public Purpose in Action: The 2018 E.E. Ford Community Engagement Fellows

This summer, the RCDS Edward E. Ford Foundation Community Engagement Fellowship Program ran for its third year. The program awards summer fellowships to RCDS Upper School students, enabling them to develop and implement innovative, sustainable projects that address the needs of a community partner. The program offers meaningful summer service opportunities for students and cultivates ongoing partnerships between RCDS and local community organizations.

The 2018 cohort of fellows included 12 Upper School students working in partnership with 10 community organizations across Westchester and Fairfield counties, including Fresh Youth Initiatives, Backyard Sports, The Nathaniel Witherell*, Carver Center*, The Cottage School (Pleasantville, NY), Boys and Girls Club*, Port Chester WestCOP, Save the Sound, Building One Community*, and Our New Way Garden.

Each of the fellows developed an original project or expanded a program from a previous fellow. Examples included developing innovative math enrichment programs for underprivileged youth using music and real-life applications; installing and introducing a gaga pit program; improving the infrastructure of a community garden; instructing residents at a senior center how to use technology; creating a middle school summer coding program; improving communication between administrators and volunteers by developing a new online portal; collecting and analyzing water samples from the Long Island Sound; and developing performing arts programs at local summer camps. Over the course of their projects, the students gained empathy and leadership skills while deepening their connections to their communities.

*Organizations that partnered with E.E. Ford Foundation Community Engagement Fellowship program in 2017/2016.

The students will present their projects at the E.E. Ford Community Engagement Fellows Symposium on Tuesday, October 2, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall & the Pinkham Garden Lounge.

RCDS students, families, faculty, friends, and community partners are invited. Please RSVP here if you would like to attend.

2018 Community Engagement Fellows

Patricia Bautista '19

Community Partner: Fresh Youth Initiatives (Washington Heights, NY)

Fresh Youth Initiatives work with low-income, immigrant, and first-generation youth living or attending school in Washington Heights/Inwood. Their principal goals are to assist children and teens to flourish in school; navigate transitions; get on track for college and career; and give back to the community with compassion and care. To assist in serving this community, Patricia created an interactive math enrichment program for K-4th graders centered around the fundamentals of algebra and geometry. Through her program, students learned real-life applications of the skills by creating posters, making 3-D models, and playing interactive games.

Faculty Mentor: Ofelia Marquez

Chris Connor '20

Community Partner: Backyard Sports (White Plains, NY)

Backyard Sports, a community team sports program based in Westchester County, helps develop and sharpen athletic skills in boys and girls ages 3-18. For his project, Chris helped install a gaga pit and encouraged children to participate and play. Working in conjunction with Backyard Sports, Chris also implemented and supervised a gaga program at the Thomas H. Slater Center. Through his project, Chris was able to introduce an new athletic game to the community that is inclusive of all abilities.

Faculty Mentor: Iain Pollock

Joey Farrell '19

Community Partner: The Nathaniel Witherell (Greenwich, CT)

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. As a 2017 fellow, Joey introduced residents to iPads, providing them with the physical technology, tech support and logistical coordination to connect residents with their loved ones. This year, Joey expanded the program by providing additional iPads to the community and teaching structured group classes how to use the technology for entertainment as well as to connect with family and friends.

Faculty Mentor: Sarah Land

Katie Farrell '21

Community Partner: 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, Katie extended the world of computer science to the children of the Port Chester community by creating a middle school coding program. By introducing the students to the principles of Arduinos and Scratch they were able to create games and animations as well as program speakers and motors.

Faculty Mentor: Emily Bennett

Nathalie Felton '19

Community Partner: The Cottage School (Pleasantville, NY)

Pleasantville Cottage School, a part of the JCCA, is a residential treatment program for emotionally troubled boys and girls, ages 7-16. The organization helps abused, neglected and traumatized children heal physically and emotionally through compassionate, quality care. Nathalie created an online portal to facilitate communication between administrators and volunteers at The Cottage School to ensure that volunteers' time is used for the greatest possible benefit. In September, over 600 volunteers will begin using the portal to communicate with program administrators.

Faculty Mentor: Sarah Land

Eesha Narain '21

Community Partner: Boys and Girls Club (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. As a 2016 fellow, Faith Hardy introduced a performing arts component to the Boys and Girls Club Summer camp. This summer, Eesha continued the work of Faith by incorporating a drama program into the daily summer camp for students ages 7-13. The skills learned in the drama classes culminated in a performance for friends and family at the end of the summer.

Faculty Mentor: Jac-que Robinson

William Shabecoff '19

Community Partner: WestCOP (Port Chester, NY)

The Westchester Community Opportunity Program or WestCOP, works to mobilize and efficiently manage resources through partnerships and collaborations to help the low-income and at-risk populations in the Hudson Valley region to achieve greater self-sufficiency. To support the Port Chester Head Start early childhood program, William incorporated music into an enrichment program with the goal of lowering the achievement gap and instilling a life-long love for learning math.

Faculty Mentor: Iain Pollock

Nishan Shehadeh '19

Community Partner: Save the Sound (Mamaroneck, NY)

The mission of Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound is to protect and improve the land, air, and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound. For his project, Nishan collected samples of Long Island Sound water and analyzed them in the Save the Sound laboratory to measure human impact on, and the relative health of, the bays and harbors of Long Island Sound. By using his scientific expertise, he was able to provide useful data to help support initiatives that will improve the environment for current and future generations.

Faculty Mentor: Cathie Bischoff

Claire Slocum '19

Community Partner: 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, Claire developed and taught creative movement dance classes, centered around the core principles of Ballet. Children learned to collaborate together creativity through dance improvisation which culminated in a performance at the Carver Center Summer Camp talent show.

Faculty Mentor: Ashley Zanon

Charlotte Townley '19

Community Partner: Building One Community (Stamford, CT)

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. Charlotte supported children (grades K-5), by developing a summer math program that strengthened existing math skills, introduced new material for their upcoming school year, and fostered an excitement for math.

Faculty Mentor: Tia Gueye

Ethan Zeplin/Julian Martelly '19

Community Partner: Our New Way Garden (White Plains, NY)

Our New Way Garden utilizes gardens to educate the public about locally and naturally grown food and to increase access to healthy organic produce to those who otherwise would not have access to such foods in their communities. Ethan and Julian helped to improve and develop the community garden infrastructure which included creating a wheelchair-accessible raised bed garden. They also increased support of the garden through developing a social media content strategy.

Faculty Mentor: Amanda Sackey

E.E. Ford Community Engagement Bulletin Board