We’re thrilled to partner with local organizations who are not only our neighbors, friends and community members, but who also help serve the people who visit, shop and dine here at Easton. We’re proud to introduce you to our March and April Change for Charity partner, City Year Columbus!
City Year Columbus is a nonprofit organization that partners with Columbus City Schools to help keep students in school and on track to graduate. The charity places teams of young, diverse and highly-trained AmeriCorps members in seven schools where they serve all day, every day throughout the year as role models, mentors and tutors.
We sat down with Kelsie Fields, the City Year Columbus Development Manager, to learn more about the amazing work they’re doing in our local community. Here’s what she had to say:
We heard you have a big event coming up. Tell us more!
The Red Jacket Ball is our annual fundraiser that focuses on honoring the work of our AmeriCorps members in Columbus City Schools and thanking all of our partners and donors who make what we do possible.
As our largest event of the year, the Red Jacket Ball is essentially a huge celebration where over 400 attendees can come together and celebrate our organization at the Hilton Downtown Columbus Hotel. Throughout the evening, guests can enjoy dinner, a few speaking presentations, a silent auction and an after party with a DJ!
Every year, we also have a keynote speaker attend the event, and this year we are thrilled to welcome Kyle Schwartz as our 2018 Red Jacket Ball speaker. Not only is Kyle an educator and author, but she’s also a City Year alumna! As a third-grade teacher in Denver Public Schools, she created an assignment five years ago in an effort to get to know her students better and asked each of them to share one thing they wished she knew about them with her. After realizing how serious some of the answers she received were, she wrote the book, “I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids,” which sparked the worldwide #IWishMyTeacherKnew movement.
What is the mission of City Year Columbus?
At City Year, our mission is to create democracy and social entrepreneurship through service and the power of our programs to ensure all children in Columbus have access to a quality education. We’re working to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide. In doing so, we’re helping to increase graduation rates across the country and provide more students the resources they need to be successful.
What do you love about being a part of City Year Columbus and what do you want people to know about the organization?
I love City Year because we’re impacting both our students and our AmeriCorps members and setting them up to be leaders and change-makers in our community. We’re making a huge difference in public schools by helping students stay on track. At the same time, we’re creating this amazing pipeline of civic-minded young people who are serving with us through AmeriCorps. Because we’re training them and providing them with the skills and resources they need for success in the future, we’re fostering a group of people who are ready to make changes and be leaders in their communities. Whether people invest in City Year through their time or with donations, they should know they’re making a difference in more than one way.
What type of work does City Year Columbus do on a day-to-day basis?
We have 60 AmeriCorps members that are serving in seven Columbus City Schools and participating in a wide range of activities with students every day. Their main mission is to serve as tutors, mentors and role models for the students. They lead individualized interventions for students who are struggling with attendance, behavior or course performance. We focus on those three areas because research from Johns Hopkins shows that if a student is exhibiting an issue in just one of those three categories by the sixth grade, they have a 75% chance of dropping out.
Throughout the day, our volunteers greet students, help with hallway transitions, assist with event planning and attendance committees, and engage in after school activities to bond with the students and interact with their families. In the classroom, the AmeriCorps members work directly with teachers and the students who have been identified as at-risk of dropping out.
What sort of activities or events does your charity organize?
The Red Jacket Ball is really our primary event of the year, but Opening Day on the very first day of school is another exciting event we host. We choose one of the schools we serve at and gather community members, board members and teachers to throw a celebration that welcomes students back to school and gets them excited for the year ahead.
What have been some of City Year Columbus’s biggest accomplishments in the past five years?
In the last five years, we have been able to expand our reach into three additional schools and have seen great progress with the students in our community. We are close to completing one feeder pattern of schools in the Linden area, and this is extremely exciting for us.
Essentially, a feeder pattern is the configuration for how the schools are zoned and who goes to what school. For example, four elementary schools could feed into two middle schools that feed into one high school. We try our best to be in every school that make up a feeder pattern to ensure we get kids on the right track starting in elementary school and position them to successfully graduate once they reach high school.
What does it mean to be a part of Easton’s Change for Charity program?
We are so excited to be a part of the Change for Charity program because of the recognition, credibility and visibility it gives our organization through Easton. We appreciate the opportunities we’ve been given so far and look forward to sharing our messages to new audiences through Change for Charity.
How does your organization plan to use the funds it raises from the Change for Charity program?
All the money from Change for Charity will go directly toward our programming for the seven schools we serve. These funds will help supply the AmeriCorps members who aid at the schools, support the students and everything in-between.
Other than participating in Change for Charity, how can people support City Year Columbus?
When we have external volunteers who want to get involved, we usually connect them with our AmeriCorps training program, as our members go through over 300 hours of training per year. These volunteers can come in and lead professional development workshops and events for our AmeriCorps members to assist with interview skills, financial planning solutions and more.
We also need more volunteers for our school events and after school activities! We love when volunteers can be exposed to the schools, interact with the students, meet their families and really understand what City Year Columbus does. Keep an eye out for our online volunteer site that should be up soon and will help people easily find information about our volunteer opportunities. You can also connect with City Year Columbus on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you’re interested in becoming a City Year AmeriCorps member, you can learn more here.
If you’d like to get involved with City Year Columbus, reach out to Kelsie at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact City Year Columbus directly at (614) 586-4520.