Expanding Youth Purpose Through Service #20Kby2020
ProAct Indy
Focused on our mission to engage youth in public service that educates, delights, and inspires youth and those they serve, ProAct Indy uses an evidence-based and asset-based community development approach to leverage the social capital of the community to address critical needs in Indianapolis by providing character education and service learning opportunities to marginalized youth. Among the most critical needs in Indianapolis is poverty, which we view as “capability deprivation.” We live in a world with abundant wealth and resources. Therefore, poverty is a social injustice that needs to be alleviated. If we all work together to create positive and sustainable change, even the poorest communities in Indianapolis can thrive. With this notion in mind, we believe that the best place to start is with our young people. There is a dire need for disadvantaged youth to be involved in service learning activities that proactively foster an environment of cooperative engagement that is conducive to learning, growing, and fellowship. ProAct Indy works directly with disadvantaged youth ages 10-18 through our two primary service learning programs – Project Greater Than Me (ages 14-18) and Kids in Action (ages 10-14). Our goals are to benefit these economically disadvantaged youths through character education and to promote volunteerism while simultaneously enhancing the quality of life in Indianapolis through service learning opportunities that focus on creative collaboration with community partners and unique social needs. Working in cohorts of 15-20 students, these youths are engaged in weekly character education workshops and monthly service-learning projects for 24-weeks during an academic school year. Our model uses field-based experiences to surprise or challenge youths’ world view and deepen youths’ abilities. Each project exposes our youth to something new. Youth do projects in places that enable them to learn about neighborhoods, social issues, forms of community service, and daily life patterns that are different from their own. They may meet a group from another economic background, ethnic heritage, religious upbringing, or physical landscape, for example. In the process youth help expand social awareness and invest in diversity. Each month of programming, youth focus on a specific community need, ranging from environmental justice, homelessness, food insecurity, and other pressing social issues. Youth also build skills in event planning, logistics management, volunteer training and supervision, demographic research, field interviewing, and other topics that transform them from naïve or reactive community servants into informed, reflective, and intentional community servants. With ProAct becoming an ever-expanding force for social equity in diverse communities, the need for quality and precision in all aspects of programming becomes amplified. Serving at least 2,000 young people every year and over 6,000 disadvantaged boys and girls who have collectively provided over 30,000 hours of community service in over 200 community projects, ProAct Indy is seeking to expand our youth programs to instill a sense of purpose through service for many more youth in Indianapolis and we also seek support to expand into another city for the organization, Louisville, Kentucky. Furthermore, because the community groups and organizations we are working with involve segments of the population that are, in one way or another, vulnerable and/or disenfranchised, our programs incorporate principles from critical service learning. In contrast to traditional service learning, critical service learning goes a step further by involving a deliberate focus on social justice. Within the realm of social justice, the three factors distinguishing critical service learning from traditional service learning include a social change orientation, working to redistribute power, and developing authentic relationships.
$75,000  Funded  Inspire