Greetings from the Fellowship!
As I write, we’re wrapping up the application period for another cohort of Fellows—and I can’t wait to read their letters. In just a few months, the new cohort of seven will join us in Boston at Breakthrough Greater Boston (two positions) and The Food Project; in Philadelphia at Audubon Mid-Atlantic and The Clay Studio; and in New York City at the Museum of the City of New York and NYC Audubon.
The Fellowship is as strong as it has ever been, and we are continuing to provide opportunities for the Fellows to reflect on their own growth and develop their leadership potential. During a recent Fellowship training panel on environmental justice, we talked with Ronda Chapman, the Equity Director at Trust for Public Land (a Fellowship host organization), alumnae Fellows Jen Benson ‘17 (who completed her Fellowship at Riverkeeper and is currently the Upriver/Mohawk River Civics and Community Stewardship Coordinator at Riverkeeper, while completing a Masters of Environmental Policy at the Bard College, and Sarah Kacevich ‘16 (who completed her Fellowship at Strong Women, Strong Girls and is currently the Program Director at Farrington Nature Linc).
At one point, a current Fellow asked a question “Amidst the many difficult issues you deal with everyday, what is it that gives you hope? Reflecting on her decades of experience, Ronda responded that the commitment and activism of young people is what gives her hope.
I feel the same way. I am so proud and inspired by the work of our current and alumni Fellows. Your commitment to change, your willingness to tackle social issues head on, your desire to solve problems in creative ways—that is what gives me hope.
It has been especially rewarding this year to collaborate and support our current Fellows. From their direct service and special project work to the contributions they are making to support the Fellowship recruitment and social media, they are already making a real impact in their communities—if you saw our recent “Ask Me Anything” on Instagram, you know what I mean. I have admired their resilience during the Covid pandemic and their incredible adaptability in serving students virtually in creative ways in mostly remote work environments.
In this new digital edition of the newsletter, we’re happy to share updates from our now 65 alumni Fellow. I always welcome your news and hope that you know that the Fellowship community is here to support as you navigate your own path. Never hesitate to ask if we can help.
I started the first year of my fellowship in September, a few months after the rest of the cohort began. Nonetheless, I was welcomed with significant support from fellows and my team at Jumpstart. I moved to New York to begin my fellowship in August and was immediately greeted by many in Jumpstart’s community and FAO alumnus here in the city. Since beginning in the fall, I have enjoyed engaging with New York children and families hosting literacy celebrations, conducting parent workshops to build family literacy skills, and working with Jumpstart’s Policy and Government Relations team to build strategies for addressing inequitable discipline in early education. I have also been involved in several parts of the Jumpstart’s community beyond my special project and direct service work including the organization’s Black affinity community, and working in a curriculum development workgroup, which brings together staff from different program departments to assess potential additions to Jumpstart’s cirriculum to create a more diverse, inclusive and community focused core program. In my few short months of work, I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to advocate for children and the early education sector at such a critical precipice in the national childcare crisis.
I joined Community Engagement and Family Programs at the Barnes Foundation in June 2021. While the ongoing pandemic has meant for some delays and setbacks in programming, I have had the pleasure of introducing and co-teaching an afterschool program at one of the local Philadelphia schools. In 2022, I look forward to connecting more with our greater Philadelphia communities and audiences!
During my time with the Museum of Science, I have learned so much. I moved from Austin, Texas to Boston in June of 2021 and began working in person almost immediately. The Youth Programs staff here has been incredibly supportive in helping me navigate the transition from online student to safely working in person full time at a hands-on, engaging, and interactive museum. I’ve led interns on field trips around Boston, explored engineering design challenges, and visited community vaccine clinics with the outreach team. The most exciting update at the moment is that I will perform my first Live Animal Show for visitors this week! Using a snake that lives here at the Museum as an ambassador animal, I created a show about adaptations and snake survival. My test run for the Education team was February 1st and I was approved, the culmination of 5 months of training and work. I am so excited to be working alongside amazing educators at a Museum I have remembered fondly since childhood.
Since starting at Year Up almost eight months ago, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. I’ve planned the 2022 programmatic calendar, prepared and executed two data-oriented events for all Year Up New York staff, served as a coach for a group of students in Year Up’s Career Immersion Program, and supported with the matching of Year Up participants to internships. I’m looking forward to working with my supervisor to design a new project around further collection of student satisfaction data.
I began my fellowship at Jumpstart in early September. Over the past few months, I have gone into preschool classrooms to administer literacy tests (and play on see-saws), helped organize volunteer events on Jumpstart-affiliated college campuses, conducted policy research on various early-education priorities, and testified in front of the Massachusetts Legislature in support of reforming exclusionary discipline policies for preschoolers. I am grateful to be a part of a fellowship where I can learn so much so quickly and have amazing responsibilities so soon after graduating. Working alongside Jasmin has also been a pleasure; we collaborate on multiple projects and she has been an amazing resource and grounding force as I navigate the post-grad transition. I look forward to our (hopefully) in-person retreat in May, and am excited to see what the next two years hold.