One of the ways racism is plaguing our country is through our unequal education system. The Learning Community drew me to want to pursue the Middle Grades VISTA position because I wanted to observe the many reasons why the school was so successful given that they had the same demographics of students as surrounding schools. I learned one of the biggest goals we have at The Learning Community is supporting our families and students in all aspects of life inside and outside the classroom. One project that I completed, as a Middle Grades VISTA, was researching summer program opportunities available to our families across Rhode Island. This was an important project to take on because most of our families are low-income and it can be financially hard for families to send our students to summer programming. Secondly, students who attend summer programs tend to retain academic information better over the summer months than students who do not attend.
At first glance, this opportunity seemed like a quick internet search and an excel spreadsheet. But after a few days, that mentality quickly changed. I created a binder full of resources including scholarship applications, registration forms, and various program logistics for over 400 programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The next step was figuring out how to present this overwhelming amount of information to our families and students without sending them home in emotional turmoil. Along with help from staff in the school, I planned a summer opportunities fair showcasing all of our information. I contacted over 60 program providers in hopes that they would attend. Fifteen providers showed up that night to present their programs to our students and families and over 200 families attended. It was a huge undertaking, but an even bigger success. I know that it can be difficult as a VISTA sometimes to see immediate results, but this is one example of what hard work and dedication can bring to the table.