“How do we get the kids to show up?” is a question I’ve been asked often when problem solving and event planning with my Promise Corps teams. Coming from working with elementary school students and now working with high school students, I can immediately see the concern for engaging high school students after school and even during the school day. Elementary school students are a captive audience. When you’re working with teenagers, school might be the last place they’d like to spend time in!
I learned that the determining factor of success for the West Philadelphia and Sayre High School teams is to engage students with FOOD!
Pretzels, popcorn, chips, water, juice, cookies (and occasionally a healthy snack)!
Offering a snack or food item has been a huge catalyst for seeing students more often and a great incentive for us to engage students in meaningful ways! Once students visit College and Career Ambassadors in the Promise Corps classroom, we can get a chance to truly teach them about what we do and how we can support them in planning their futures.
My co-worker and I have started reaching out to local companies to request in-kind donations of food, gift cards, or other incentives that would benefit our students.
Our first response was a great local resource: Herr’s Chip Company! Herr’s donated four cases of chips to two of our sites to use in the Computer Programming after school program at Sayre, at Think Tank planning meetings, during modules, or while completing an Individualized Student Success Plan (ISSP) with a student.
It may seem small, but the students appreciate treats and it gets those who may have never come to show up, see what Promise Corps is about, and find out what we can do for them.
As we used to say back in the day, “It’s all that and a bag of chips!”
– Leya Egea-Hinton, Promise Corps Site Supervisor
I recently told someone that without Promise Corps College & Career Ambassadors someone would’ve died. Someone would’ve actually died. Lost their life. We’re not just talking about failing math class. Dropping out of college. Not securing a sustainable career. I’m talking about death. Never, ever seeing someone again. I’m not exaggerating. I’m not being “extra” (as the kids say these days). I won’t assume how you’d feel but personally, knowing we’ve saved a life (at least one) in the short time we’ve been implementing the Promise Corps program makes me feel as if we’re doing SOMETHING right. If at bare minimum one of the 25 College & Career Ambassadors was in the right place at the right time – we’re lucky they were there.
My name is Bethany, I’m currently the Program Director for Philadelphia’s Promise Corps program. I’ve had the awesome opportunity of managing the Promise Corps program implementation since only a few days earlier than the first-ever College & Career Ambassadors started in 2015. It’s fitting that I write our first blog post even though I’m certain that my stories, my perspective and likely my humor – is certainly not as insightful or interesting as our College & Career Ambassadors themselves. They have the opportunity to tell their stories and jokes as well and we’re hopeful that you’ll be able to experience them through this blog!
My time managing this program has been an interesting paradox. We’ve been in operation for 18 months and it feels as if I’ve blinked and we’ve gotten ourselves here. Meanwhile, every day feels like a full school semester long and weeks feel like entire years. The responsibility we’ve taken on to support students in planning for their post-secondary life deserves as much effort and attention as we can possibly provide. This is both equally exhausting and energizing. Can you relate?
Check back often to follow us in our journey! In the meantime click the “get involved” tab above and feel free to reach out to me directly to learn more about Promise Corps!
Thank you for stopping by!
– Bethany Housman, Promise Corps Director