Service

A child's hand is shown stamping a pattern on a white t-shirt.

Breaking the Digital Ice: Creative Approaches to Community Engagement

When I submitted my FAO Schwarz Fellowship application in February 2020, how could I have predicted that the world would become unrecognizable in just four short weeks? Graduating college, starting a full-time job, and moving to a new city are not easy feats, pandemic or not. Under normal circumstances, I would have walked across astage in May to receive my degree. I would have visited the city wherein I’d received a job offer–before accepting the offer.

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An infographic about a Community Building method designed by FAO Fellow Lex Brown. The graphic's title is Building Community, The "ICE FARM" Approach by lex brown. The graphic is organized by the letters of ICEFARM with a step based on each letter. I- Individualization: Over time, get to know each person and their unique context. C- Consistency and Clear communication: Remember key details and reach out in ways that resonate with both the messenger and receiver. E- Explicit Ecosystem of expectations: Know what we need of others, know what is needed of us, and know how these needs are interconnected. F- Follow up/through: Be faithful to our word and acknowledge when needs aren't being met. A-Accountability: Make demonstrated effort to be accountable in action to those in our community. R- Respect for each other's humanity: Hold and honor community members as full humans with capacity for growth. M- Mutuality: Others must demonstrate a willingness and ability to enthusiastically build and maintain.

Building Community: the ICE FARM Approach

Since I was young, building community has been noted as one of my strengths. However, having my fellowship experience at Breakthrough Greater Boston (BTGB) begin completely virtually required me to think more intentionally about what community building looks like as a practice, one that cannot be facilitated as a byproduct of proximity. READ MORE

Former fellow Emily posing with members of the Yearup community

The Medium Doesn’t Matter

The past nine months of working for Year Up New York | New Jersey have been busy, busy, busy. Between my work with the alumni community, our students, and analyzing data to provide suggestions to continue improving our program and support, I have been trusted to take on more and more high-level tasks within the organization.

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Former fellow Meredith running a craft table for small children with other Jumpstart employees

Navigating Community Outreach and Policy Advocacy

On a rainy Tuesday morning, my coworker and I lugged our Jumpstart bags stuffed with books and craft supplies to a Brooklyn preschool. Though I had already coordinated many such events since I started my role six months ago, I still felt anticipation as I imagined how the children and teachers might respond to the books and activity. Like always, however, the skilled teachers made the event a breeze, catching tantrums before they escalated and prompting the students with thoughtful questions about the book.

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Former fellow Joyce Kim advising a student one on one

A Glimpse into “Virtual” Advising

When I tell people about the advising half of my work, I usually give a one-liner along the lines of, “I advise students about financial aid and college affordability, but it’s virtual so I’m mostly texting them.” This tends to receive many raised eyebrows, which only raise higher when I go on to explain that I have hundreds of students in my caseload.

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Former fellow Erika tabling for Reading Partners

My Experience as a FAO Schwarz Fellow: Building Community Partnerships

I’ve lived in Queens, New York for 14 years. I volunteered with Reading Partners in my freshman year of college. Fast forward three years later, and I have had the wonderful opportunity to engage with the organization in South Jamaica, Queens. My work as a FAO Schwarz Fellow in the community engagement team includes recruiting volunteers and seeking partnerships in the community of South Jamaica. We currently partner with three public elementary schools where I tutor and actively connect with local civic and faith-based organizations to bring tutors to the reading centers. 

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