Education & Resilience Update - Spring 2023
MRC is active in 17 elementary schools across 8 school districts. A total of 187 volunteers have completed the MRC and school district registration process and are actively working 1:1 with students. A total of 209 students are currently being served through 1:1 reading sessions. There have been 15 classroom reading sessions that have reached 579 students. Between December 2022 and April 2023, the MRC staff asked MRC volunteers to complete a voluntary demographic survey. There was a 45% response rate. The average MRC volunteer is 47 years old. The median age is 50. Almost all, 99%, of MRC volunteers identify as female. Approximately 60% of volunteers identify as White and 32% identify as Black or African-American. Approximately 84% of volunteers have served for 0-2 years. The MRC staff is exploring ways to increase race, gender, and geographic diversity among MRC volunteers.
Lexington County School District Two, Lexington County School District Four, Calhoun County Public Schools, Orangeburg County School District and Lexington/Richland 5 School District have agreed to allow the United Way of the Midlands Background Check to be used in lieu of the school district-level application process. This is 4 of 8 of our school districts and 8 of 17 schools. MRC is in the process of talking with the other Districts regarding their application process and MRC Background Check being sufficient as well. It is beneficial to the districts as it saves them money, not to have to process Background Checks for MRC volunteers and volunteers are more quickly able to serve students. Since November, four monthly lunch gatherings have taken place at United Way of the Midlands to engage, learn, retain, and recruit volunteers. These luncheons are scheduled monthly and will conclude in May.
Summer Reading Camps
MRC is in the process of recruiting volunteers for summer reading camps. Volunteers will assist third-grade students who are not reading at their grade level. The Lex-Rich Five summer reading camp will be held at Harbison West Elementary. Lex-Rich Five representatives expect 70-80 students to attend the camp. MRC may also assist Richland School District One with its summer reading camps. MRC recruitment is ongoing. MRC was on Soda City Live on March 31st to recruit volunteers for Summer Camps.
MRC schools are having final literacy nights, family engagement nights, STEM nights, and field days that MRC will participate in. Our schools have also decided on end dates ranging from April 28 to May 19 commencing with end-of-year celebrations. During the celebration, students will receive a certificate of participation, along with a bag full of books to encourage reading during the summer partnered with our Be a Book Bunny program with the Young Leader Society (YLS). We are currently working on solidifying summer reading camp programs with Harbison West in Richland/Lexington 5 along with four Richland one schools for MRC to participate in. During the summer, the team will begin planning for the 23-24 school year, meeting with in-school liaisons and assessing surveys for areas of improvement in our program.
Our current AmeriCorps class for this year will be ending on July 31st. Planning for their end-of-year celebration will begin in June along with recruitment for next year's AmeriCorps. During the summer members will work on life after AmeriCorps training and workshops that include professional/ personal development along with assisting in summer reading camps and preparing MRC for the 23-24 academic year.
MRC STEM Expansion
MRC’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) expansion has incorporated STEM principles into the program’s traditional one-on-one reading sessions to destigmatize and cultivate an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math among prekindergarten - third grade students. Riverbank Elementary, an MRC school in Lexington County School District Two, is hosting the STEM pilot. Since February, STEM reading sessions have occurred every other week and will continue until late April. The STEM reading sessions have been well-received by students, volunteers, and teachers. MRC hopes to expand its STEM offerings to four Lexington Two School District schools next school year.
MRC facilitated math-focused games at Riverbank Elementary’s Math Night alongside volunteers from Capgemini. The STEM night was a schoolwide event. Capgemini employees created two math related games for Riverbank Elementary’s Math Night. MRC AmeriCorps members facilitated math board games that were selected from a curated list of STEM games. The Riverbank Elementary community members who attended the Math Night expressed their appreciation for the role MRC played at the Math Night. MRC will have a presence at Springdale Elementary’s STEAM Night on April 27th.
Resilient Midlands (RM) successfully completed its inaugural Youth and Resiliency Series. Each month, RM offered a free workshop to the public that focused on different aspects of childhood trauma. The workshop averaged about 20-30 participants each month. RM gave presentations at Claflin University and the University of South Carolina that focused on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the purpose of RM. RM reached 180 students between the ages of 12-18 through on-site Juvenile Justice Jeopardy at 10 sites.
Young Men United
The Young Men United pilot cohort will include 26 total students from two schools: Eau Claire High School and Richland Northeast High School. United Way of the Midlands is open to strategically partnering with additional high schools. Young Men United has an Advisory Committee comprised of 16 high-level volunteers who are responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and revising the program. Dr. Baron Davis serves as the Advisory Committee’s Chair. The Advisory Committee has two subcommittees: one subcommittee focused on mentorship and internships and another subcommittee focused on professional development opportunities. A total of 13 people applied to serve as Young Men United mentors. Young Men United mentor orientation sessions will be held on Monday, April 24th. The Advisory Committee is actively recruiting mentors, identifying internship sites, and scheduling professional development opportunities for the program participants. The Salvation Army of the Midlands will work with representatives at Eau Claire High School and Richland Northeast High School to coordinate familial financial support for each Young Men United participant.
Colonial Life awarded United Way of the Midlands $500,000 and serves as Young Men United’s Founding Partner. As Told By created videos to promote Young Men United. All the videos should be present on the United Way of the Midlands YouTube channel by the end of May. The Young Men United press event was held on March 15th at Eau Claire High School. The Eau Claire students who were selected to participate in the program attended the press event along with Colonial Life representatives, school district representatives, Young Men United Advisory Board members, and representatives from several media outlets. The Young Men United Welcome Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 13th at the Colonial Life building. The ceremony will include a catered meal, opportunities for mentors and mentees to converse, and breakout sessions for Young Men United participants and their families.