Thanks to the help of our team, mentors, and students we were able to get a lot accomplished this week.
This update includes:
- Weekly Recap
- Program Details (visualization & description of roles, components, timeline, etc)
- Lessons Learned
Sustainable Jersey: I mentioned last week that I would be volunteering at Sustainable Jersey’s Government Connext conference. I was asked to take notes during all the sessions which took place on the Digital Government track. The topics were inline with my personal passion so I was quite engaged throughout the day. I started my career in 2009 by bringing digital into the local government and using it as a tool to bridge the gap between the people and the institutions which surround them. I transitioned away from government at the time because it was not socially acceptable to try and collaborate with the government yet – the mindsets of the people hadn’t evolved yet. To see this event take place, and to listen to the government officials discuss ways in which they are trying to connect with the people on a deeper level was inspiring. This will be a springboard for our collaboration with Sustainable Jersey moving forward.
Community Works: The annual conference known as Community Works is run by an active member of the Princeton community, Marge Smith. I have been able to connect with Marge on a personal level and she welcomed me into the organizers meetings for the upcoming conference. I attended the previous meeting on Friday morning at 8:30am and will continue to meet with her team every Friday this month. I have met some great people already and I look forward to learning more from Marge.
Weekly Meeting: We met for our weekly in-person meeting on Wednesday, and we will continue to meet on Wednesdays at 7pm moving forward. We went out for dinner this week. It was a nice change from the typical “learning environment”. I think the students opened up more as well. Two of the mentors were there and both added a lot of value to the conversation. During our dinner meeting we went through the specific details of the program for the first time. It has been difficult to assemble the details of a program which is meant to provide personalized learning experiences to each individual, but I am confident we took a big leap in the right direction. See below.
The following list contains the major “tent poles” or components that make up the program:
- Learning Community (on-and-offline resources & continuous support)
- In-Person Weekly Meetings (Wednesdays 7pm)
- Facebook Group
- Blended Learning Modules (online)
- Social Innovation Lab
- ePortfolio & Branding (digital footprint & online resume)
- Immersive Training (skill-building bootcamps)
- Community Service (project-based volunteering)
- Paid Apprenticeship (employment inline with purpose)
- Sustainable Impact (carve out a place for yourself in the economy)
We are working on an updated visualization of the components and will update you with that image once it’s ready. For now, here is the first draft of the graphic (let us know if you have any ideas):
The following is a list of the typical roles involved with the program. Do you know someone who might be interested in filling a role?
- Scholars: your role is to build something that makes a dent in the universe.
- Mentors: Mentors are an extension of the teaching team and play an active role in the weekly coaching of a specific team of scholars.
- Advisors: committed to the program, accessible to the scholars via email, willing to visit with the scholars at least one time in person, but is mostly an on-call resource.
- Teachers: Teachers create organic learning environments. They work with the director on future cohort recruitment, and they manage the resource development for their cohorts.
- Director: The director steers the ship. She is tuned into the feedback loops (scholar/mentor, scholar/teacher, scholar/mentor/teacher) to understand the existing needs of the scholars and to “see around the corner” in terms of what might be needed in the near future.
- Nonprofits: Nonprofits host credit-bearing and project-based internships for our scholars. Nonprofit budgets do not always permit them to invest in multimedia services. Our scholars fill that gap by producing a video that analyzes the complexity of the problem the nonprofit is mission-driven to solving, (2) tells the organization’s story, or (3) or tells the story of a recent program in order to attract funding and additional support.
- Businesses: With over 2 million employment opportunities currently unfilled we provide businesses with a unique opportunity to cultivate a skilled workforce by hosting a paid apprenticeship.
- Families: While we hope all families will be involved we understand it is not always possible, but for those who are involved we are here to work together to best support your scholar’s unique needs.
- Social Workers: Provide professional guidance, insight, and advice to our teachers, mentors, scholars, and families.
The below graphic represents the different components as a scholar would go through the program.
The most important lesson I learned this week is how necessary it is that we be willing to fit ourselves and the program into the lives of each scholar.
One of our scholars lives and works on a farm 25 minutes away from Princeton. He has no car and no computer. However, he has other things which are requirements: high potential, motivation, and commitment to self-improvement. I give him a ride to and from the weekly meetings to make sure nothing gets in the way of his opportunity to unlock his own potential.
Another one of the students is dealing with various obstacles in her life. Not only does she work to support herself and family, but she also was in a car accident about two weeks ago. The first thing she was ready to drop from her daily responsibilities was attending our meetings. Once I realized she was in need of support I offered to fill that gap for her so that she wouldn’t have to worry about transportation. I give her a ride to the weekly meetings and I have helped her get to and from work on days I am in the area – otherwise, she would be spending the money earned from working on taxis.
There are 6 million other young people in America who are dealing with issues just like the ones I mention above. These young Americans require a continuous network of support from those around them. I am honored to say that Action Horizon Institute does exactly that and so much more. Contact us if you want to help our scholars unlock their potential for greatness.
This is our second consecutive stakeholder update. If you missed the first update last week you can find it here.