Partnering for Success, Community Improvement Project, 2016-2018
WCOP proudly accepted many awards at the 124th General Federation of Women's Clubs- New York Annual Convention, May 3-6, 2018, in Albany. The most significant was the 1st place Community Improvement Program Award. GFWC-NY said “Partnering for Student Success” was an amazing project and they were pleased to submit it for consideration at the International Convention in St. Louis. The following is a summary of our two year project.
Charles Carroll School #46 and Women’s Club of Pittsford: Partnering for Success
IT TAKES A VILLAGE By the fall of 2015, a Rochester task force was already engaged in a “war on poverty.” The report stated that “in the city, poverty is concentrated and extensive, many neighborhoods are unstable and likely to be burdened by crime, unemployment, health problems, and weak social networks. This has a huge negative effect on children’s achievement in school. Teaching is an entirely different challenge than in schools where most children have educated, and relatively affluent parents.
It was in that light that WCOP looked at the start of formal education, to see how we might partner to make a difference with Charles Carroll School #46, K-2 students. Education is supposed to help level the playing field, ultimately producing successful graduates who will contribute to their community and society. We knew that one major problem in this urban school was the technology gap. We also knew one way to narrow the “digital divide” was to donate needed mobile devices and accompanying software. Technology, however, could not do it alone. WCOP members had to read, mentor and volunteer.
The use of technology in the classroom has shown significant promise in teaching and learning around the world. Since Apple launched iPad in 2010, millions are in use by students and teachers to inspire creativity and hands-on learning. The Rochester City School District budget allocated only four (4) iPads to each K-2 classroom. In 2016, there were just 4 iPads in each of the two kindergarten classes at Charles Carroll School #46. Specifically, 8 of 43 students (18%) could use iPads at a time. That translated to a very limited access to the iPad-based reading and math programs - only 30 minutes per day per student.
This changed in January, 2016, when the Women’s Club of Pittsford donated 24 iPads to the RCSD School #46 kindergarten classes. Now, 74% of the class could use iPads at a time. That meant more time on programs; more time for students to complete intervention programs; more time to access enrichment opportunities, such as having books read to them through RazKids.
These iPads followed the cohort of students to 2nd grade. The School #46 educators reported quarterly Performance Predictors and Progress Performance Predictors in LEXIA Core 5. The teachers also reported increased engagement and motivation in the classroom. By 2nd grade, the cohort had gained number sense by working on math programs that provided game-based instructional activities. The students also created books with words and pictures using Book Creator.
WCOP was the fiscal sponsor of this project and provided $6578 to School #46 to support the purchase of the 24 Apple iPads. This was the start of our “Partnering for Student Success: iPad Initiative.” The Community Improvement Program committee conducted a letter writing campaign to secure financial support from the community. We wrote to many local companies. We quickly learned that most provide larger grants to bigger organizations, or they already used their charitable giving fund for the year, or we missed their particular deadlines. We also wrote to local legislative members and individuals known for their philanthropy. Fortunately, we had success with those generous people, in addition to donations from our own members. WCOP membership, however, wanted to include many more of the Rochester community in our initiative, and so, BUNCO FOR EDUCATION evolved.
The ambitious BUNCO fundraiser involved 65 businesses or individuals who contributed raffle prizes, two business sponsors, in addition to the six charter sponsors, and 125 who registered for the event. Ultimately, the event raised $5185 to help purchase the requested apps and accessories, which would continue to keep the students challenged, engaged, and enthusiastic about learning.
The donation of 24 Apple iPads by the Women’s Club of Pittsford had a prodigious effect on student learning. The SMART goal of the project was surpassed. There were three measurable impacts:
1. By the end of December, 2017, 100% of the students in the cohort were making growth as measured by NWEA. 2. Students increased the amount of time spent reading. 3. There was an increase in the number of students on target as measured by LEXIA Core 5.
The impact of the donation was truly seen in the excitement of the students while they were learning and doing technology projects. The cohort brought their writing to life by using the applications (apps) for projects. One application, for example, allowed students to take pictures of a planet as they wrote about being an astronaut. Another app aged their faces, while they compared life today to life 100 years from now. Students also made videos to share their research on various topics and even used green screens, just like professional studios. In conclusion, this Community Improvement Project was successful because it positively impacted the students’ academic growth, in addition to making them more engaged in learning. WCOP will continue our partnership with School #46, the ultimate goal being graduation for these students, and, eventually, their successful transition into active members of our community. We know that they are off to a good start, and, as the Educator and Philosopher Plato said in THE REPUBLIC, “You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work."