Summer 2020 Programs Updates

Leaders 4 Social Change 

Leaders 4SC is a summer workshop for middle school (rising 5th to 9th grade) students on leadership, communication, decision-making, and advocacy. Our goal is to train the next generation of civic leaders: members of a community who actively participate in society. The program saw immense growth throughout the past two years.

Last year, the summer Leaders 4SC camp was held for two weeks and this year we managed to successfully give students the option of joining us for six weeks. Our student sign-ups went from approximately 25 last summer to an overwhelming 110 this summer. Not only did we meet our goal of quadrupling the number of students, but we also went 10% above our goal.

Over the course of 30 days, we covered 30 current event topics, such as Global Education Systems, Renewable Energy, The National Debt, Space Exploration, Pandemics, Global Child Labor, Natural Disasters, Homeslessness + Affordable Housing, AI + The Workforce, Social Media, Rights of Children, Voting Participation, Refugee Crisis, Designer Babies (Gene Editing), School Types, Punishment, Climate Change, World Poverty + Hunger, AI + Robots and the Future, School Violence, Schools Under Covid, Gender Equality, Freedom of Press, Green Cities, Elections, Special Needs Education, Policing, Global Health, Self-Driving Cars, and Bullying. We have received some incredible testimonials from parents and students as well:

“This program helped my children come out of their shell and begin to write and speak with such power. Their love for research and current affairs have grown tremendously. At the end of the 4 weeks that I signed them up for, one of my children begged for an additional couple of weeks. That’s amazing!!!!”

“You should come to this camp if you want to learn and discuss new things, and then calmly debate them with other students.”

“Great format of camp, nice variety of topics covered and instructors were awesome”

“This camp is great for kids who want to learn and understand about the issues in our society.”

“It’s a friendly atmosphere that provides structure, peer to peer interactions, and engages the kids on such important topics.”

“Students should attend next year because it has very informing topics and feedback is awesome. We also had a lot of fun and got close to our group. We are staying in touch with the whole classroom and can’t wait to do it again!”

This fall and spring semester, we hope to continue this success into our newly offered programs, Seminars and Saturdays Solutions. Seminars are semester-long after-school programs for students to engage in deliberation with their peers while they read advanced works and engage in independent and group projects with the support of their instructors. Saturday Solutions are weekly events where students will meet together to learn about a current event and then participate in a task force activity that allows them to role-play as key decision-makers and stakeholders as they practice their civic leadership skills in solving key global and local problems.

Academy 4 Social Change

Academy 4 Social Change is a new project that saw exponential growth throughout Summer 2020. Since May 1st of this year, we’ve reorganized our content into 8 categories: Economics, History, Psychology, Philosophy, U.S. Government, Global Issues, and Democracy. Within these categories, we have 24 series, 16 of which launched this summer, with a grand total of 100 videos. Some of the newest videos include: World Bank: The Purse Strings of Global Development, Greek Democracy: Humble Beginnings, Seneca Falls Convention: For Women, By Women, The Non-Identity Problem: Should You Change the Future?, and Brown v Board of Education 1954

Over the past three months, Academy 4SC has seen 33.9 thousand visits to the site. Our top five most-watched videos during this time generated an average of almost 2 thousand clicks each. They were, in order of highest view count: Brevitas: Keep It Concise, Cognitive Dissonance: Always Believe in What You Do, Milgram’s Obedience Experiments: Don’t Be Too Shocked!, Fallacy of Relative Privation: All Problems Are Relative, and The Federalist Papers: In Defense of the Constitution. The Academy 4SC team carefully crafted blog posts, videos, and teaching aids to facilitate learning in the virtual classroom during Summer 2020.

All this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of almost 50 interns who volunteered this summer. Most were located in Massachusetts or New York, but others were from California, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington DC. Together, they put in roughly 12 thousand hours and crafted more than 180 pieces of written content. With such dedicated and varied helpers, we are confident Academy 4SC will continue growing and reaching a larger audience.

We now hope to propel the momentum from this summer into the 2020-2021 school year by providing more original content to meet the growing demand for virtual education. Furthermore, we plan to provide more resources for teachers to provoke deeper understanding of chosen topics, both in and out of the classroom. Between this and our plans for our Educators 4SC and Leaders 4SC programs, Academy 4 Social Change is rising to help ignite, enlight, and unite the civic leaders of tomorrow! 

Educators 4 Social Change

Educators 4 Social Change grew in scope and reach throughout Summer 2020. Since May 1st of this year, we have added 24 Topic Resources articles and 5 Classroom Practices articles to the site. Some of the newest additions include: Teaching About the Supreme Court, Teaching About Voter Suppression, and Teaching with COVID-19 Classroom Seating and Materials

Over the past three months, Educators 4SC has seen 46.5 thousand visits to the site. The most visited resources during this time were: Teaching about Race, Teaching about World Religions, Teaching about Police Brutality, Teaching with Powerpoint Presentations, and Teaching about Fake News. Staff and interns creating Educators 4SC content worked diligently to respond to the critical moments in politics, society, and culture that occurred during Summer 2020. 

Another exciting addition to Educators 4SC site this summer was the launch of the Civic Education Roundups. Each week, we published a review of 4 or 5 recent scholarly articles from the field of Civics Education. These summaries helped inform our work across the organization and compliment two ongoing research projects. 

We now hope to propel the momentum from this summer into the 2020-2021 school year by providing more original content through our Academy 4SC and Leaders 4SC programs and engaging motivated Educators in the launch of our Teacher Council. This group of teachers will inform the work of United 4 Social Change and serve as ambassadors between the organization and their schools. Educators are critical to the execution of our mission to create the informed civic leaders of the future! 

Hybrid Internship: Argumentative Writing

This year, United 4 Social Change opened its Hybrid Argumentative Writing Internship early in April to provide applicants with an opportunity to do safe, meaningful remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interns were recruited from all over the United States, as well as other countries, including Canada, India, and Japan. 

Over the course of the summer, the Hybrid Argumentative Writing Internship experienced a huge boom in applicants. We had 50 student interns who completed at least one article for the program, many of them continuing on to write more, up to a maximum of eight. From April to August, a total of 210 student articles were published to our websites, Students 4SC and Indians 4SC.

Many of our interns provided positive feedback in their evaluation of the Hybrid Internship. The highlights are listed below: 

Would you recommend the Hybrid Internship to other applicants? If yes, why? If no, why not?

  • “Yes because it encourages students to deeply consider, research, and develop their own opinions on prevalent social issues. It gave me the opportunity to write about social issues in an argumentative style, which was different from my usual school work.”
  • “Yes. It was a very fulfilling and enriching experience to know that I’m contributing to a movement of positive change in the world while improving my writing and rhetorical skills.”
  • “yes because it provides a chance to improve your writing in an asynchronous, low-stress setting”

Thus, interns found the Hybrid Internship, and its eight-lesson course and weekly meetings, beneficial to the development of their research and argumentative writing skills. The program was also noted to be very accommodating, designed to work around interns’ schedules. 

We offered a variety of different meeting types, from topic discussions, Q&As, article help sessions, to argumentative writing workshops. Interns were particularly partial to our five workshops on Thesis Statements, Structuring an Article, Arguments & Counterarguments, Fixing Choppy Writing, and Concision. They found the workshops “well taught”, “helpful”, and “interactive in a way [where] multiple interns could work together”.

Once students completed the internship, they received a certificate to commemorate the occasion and the ability to request a letter of recommendation for whatever program they choose to apply to in the future. U4SC is immensely proud of its graduates and hopes they will continue to stay in touch.

Associates 4 Social Change

Over the summer, the inaugural Associates 4 Social Change program convened students from all over the country, and in some cases, all of the world. With twenty students completing our introduction to workplace skills and nonprofit administration, we were able to offer a flexible program that worked with students’ schedules, allowing them the ability to work and take care of their families concurrently. 

We were also able to reach demographics that traditionally have not had as many access to internships and networking opportunities. 25% of participants were first-generation college students. 63% of participants were people of color and a third of those students were underrepresented minorities. Participants also spoke in their testimonials of the accessibility saying, the flexibility of the program was “important for those of us that have other responsibilities” and how it “allowed for other summer commitments to be done as well.”

Over the course of the summer, participants reported growth in a number of areas and expressed the importance of having a flexible program with personalized feedback. After the program, the average rate of agreement (on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being “I strongly agree”) for the statement “I have the skills necessary to succeed in a professional workplace environment” jumped over one full point. Similarly, the average rate of agreement with the statement “I have the ability to be an active civic participant in my community” also went up more than a full point. 

Beyond the strict confines of the course, participants were also able to connect for more feedback and offer their own suggestions with frequent office hour opportunities. There was also a small book group that formed for students who completed the core course where we read The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and answered discussion questions. At the end of the summer 12 participants joined some staff in a small networking reception to put some of their new skills to work. They mingled virtually in rotating breakout rooms with interns and staff, sharing their new LinkedIn accounts and talking about their professional goals.

Once participants completed the main course many students either started our grant writing track or were placed at internships with flexibility on the number of hours required. We also offered those students a certificate and letter of recommendation upon request. We welcomed 4 of those students at United 4 Social Change as interns. We look forward to continuing to support those students as well as place students who are still completing the course in taking on more tracks or starting their internships. We may also be welcoming a spring cohort of students and look forward to being able to serve more students who might not otherwise have access to internships especially as COVID has upended many in-person opportunities. 

Students’ feedback forms also spoke to the success of the program. Here is what two students said about the program: 

  • The Associates program provided me with an opportunity to continue learning about social change and what methods are best to make it happen. Each lesson is different from the previous allowing new topics to be covered constantly. Finally, the feedback that was given was comprehensive and helpful which made me feel like I bettered myself.
  • It provides you with a specialized set of lessons full of information about nonprofits that is hard to compile elsewhere online. I thought the organization was well-handled, no lesson ever seemed too overwhelming or large to complete within an hour. It helped keep me focused and attentive to what I was learning.