Big Bend Community Based Care in Tallahassee will soon be rolling out its service learning initiative through which local youth in foster care will be encouraged to formulate ideas for service projects and implement them with support from invested community members. In addition to learning new skills and improving grades, students in service learning should generally feel more empowered and capable of ambitious achievements, notably in school.
In order for our service learning initiative to be successful, Big Bend CBC has determined that our students need an adult advisory council. This council will act as a built-in community network which should help students make valuable connections in the community in order to complete projects. With a diverse pool of experts and enthusiasts of various fields, students will receive ideational support from the council as well.
Additionally, since the service learning initiative is in its infancy, the council will help design and adjust the general framework, mission, and implementation of the service learning initiative. The framework, mission, and implementation of individual projects will largely be the students’ responsibility, but there should be constructive communication between the parties on both the general and specific. The students will periodically report successes, difficulties, and future visions to the council and will receive feedback and support.
Based on whatever projects are currently active and individual council members’ ability and willingness to devote additional energy and time to these projects, time commitment required varies. A lack of expertise relevant to the current project(s) shouldn’t bar people from participation, but it’s possible that adult participation will be limited by youth members’ project and its need for extra volunteers and support. Some council members may only attend the whole-council meetings, which should generally average about once a month. We hope to be able to maintain a large pool of willing adults that students can reach out to for support in their projects.
Another role for the advisory council will be organizing efforts to recognize and reward the students for their hard work, and possibly designing sustainable ways to provide for incentives and project-related materials.
The adult council itself will receive support and guidance from Connie Lyda, Big Bend CBC’s Community Liaison for District 2, from Big Bend CBC’s volunteer foster youth education coordinator (me), and from our partner Independent Living Specialists, who will all be actively involved in the initiative for the long term. Please join the mailing list if you feel you could offer at least a couple hours a month.
Foster Youth Education Coordinator, VISTA with Big Bend Community Based Care