In a six week long summer experience, Georgetown students would act as coaches, empowering and inspiring students from Southeast DC to identify and tackle the problems in their community. The undergraduate participants would also work to change the problems that they perceive on Georgetown’s campus. The goals of the program are:
1. To improve the experience of Georgetown students by increasing connectedness within the student body and between students and university administration
2. To encourage and facilitate student work for change on campus
3. To allow Georgetown and DCPS students to develop an appreciation for experiences very different from their own
4. To highlight the positive and break down the stereotype of the disengaged student
This project would build upon the framework and success of Civic Engagement and Education, a community based learning course at Georgetown University. The original focus of the class was to work with students from under-preforming Frank W. Ballou High School, and encourage and help them to tackle problems in their school or area. These ranged from demanding administrative transparency to developing a proposal for reduced school transportation costs.
As the semester progressed, and in light of racial tensions on Georgetown’s campus, the class expanded its focus so that students could identify and address challenges facing the Georgetown student body as well. From this grew a student-led movement to combat prejudice and build community amongst undergraduates.
The theory behind a class or program such as this is that change needs to come from within. Given the proper resources, youth can become their own advocates, and act to change what they see as the most urgent problems.
A summer program would allow both DCPS and Georgetown students to work intensively towards cohesion and community change. We envision DCPS high school students getting picked up and brought to Georgetown five mornings a week, and spending 5-6 hours working and bonding with their undergraduate students “coaches.” Then, the DC students are transported back, the Georgetown students will reserve 2-3 hours each day to work on the issue (or issues) that they have identified within the campus community. The project would culminate in a conference involving DC government and education officials, as well as Georgetown administrators, in which students could present their accomplishments and explain the changes they have implemented.
The grant money would go towards transporting the students from Southeast DC to and from the university, lunch for students, and classroom or other meeting space on campus.