“Just 9% of youth from low-income families receive a four-year degree.”
“Only 16% of low-income children say they can trust others, and almost 40% have never had an adult mentor of any kind.”
“Children from low-income housing have less than $1,000 a year spent on out-of-school enrichment activities, compared to over $7,000 from wealthier households.”
The DREAM Program is dedicated to dismantling the above statistics by closing the opportunity gap for children in low-income housing through boosting educational expectations and aspirations, building trusting relationships, and investing in extended learning opportunities. Philadelphia Program Director, Jay McFadgen, and AmeriCorps member Talia Giles, attended the Civic Engagement Academy (CEA) Learning Series on Targeting and Recruitment to learn how they can reach their goal in increasing The DREAM Program.
Coming from a background in service with AmeriCorps NCCC, Jay has been with The DREAM Program for four years. At The DREAM Program, Jay worked with his team of 3 VISTAs to lead college students in volunteering to give back to their campus communities. Volunteers serve as role models and mentors to youth at four different sites in low income neighborhoods: Fairhill Apartments community, Cecil B. Moore Village, West Park, Beckett Gardens. Furthermore, The DREAM Program has summer programming that engages youth in learning leadership skills, meeting new people, and connecting them with the outdoors. Jay says that community engagement is what makes The DREAM Program successful “Without the support of families and neighbors, we can’t be successful...that’s the bread and butter right there”.
Jay was joined by Talia Giles, a State & National AmeriCorps member and 2018 Arcadia University alum, who works as the Program Empowerment Director managing the Fairhill Apartments community site. Jay and Talia specifically attended the Targeting and Recruitment training because they are expanding to a new program site. In order to build out a teen specific program in a specific neighborhood, they recognize that they must be able to engage the right communities and partners.
Their goal is to increase their resiliency around cultivating parent relationships by making parent engagement sustainable. Talia says that "Sometimes it sucks and doors get slammed in your face...” but also reflects that "...when you get those families and parents who are invested in our mission and really want to engage with us - that really appreciate the work we're doing - it's a reminder that this work makes a real difference and has an impact."
From this training, Jay is looking forward to taking what he has learned back to his staff so that everyone can be involved in the recruitment strategy. He will begin by backward planning from their end goal. Additionally, Talia is excited to implement the benchmarking process with targeting and recruitment. By using numbers as real goals to guide their work, and using those goals to hold volunteers and coworkers accountable, their team will certainly see success.
To learn more about The DREAM Program: https://www.dreamprogram.org/
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