A Youth Service America (YSA) grant secured last year by college students working at United Way of the Plains and Safe Streets Wichita is now funding 11 service projects led by Wichita Public Schools students.
This YSA grant to fund service and leadership opportunities for area youth is especially meaningful due to the university student leadership administering the grant and setting the example for younger students.
United Way of the Plains Community Impact Intern Jadie Chauncey, with Ngoc Vuong and Jordy Mosqueda of Safe Streets Wichita, all Wichita State University students, have spent the last seven months working with secondary school students to encourage service learning.
“A lot of Wichita youth don’t feel connected to their communities,” Chauncey said. “It’s about being relevant to what their interests are.”
Chauncey, Vuong and Mosqueda organized informational sessions at Wichita Public Schools high schools, where they talked about the grant and how students could get involved by applying for mini grants to fund their own, student-led service projects.
“Wichita schools have been really good about providing service-learning opportunities, but kids wanted to learn about how to find opportunities outside of schools,” Chauncey said.
The university students then organized a Zoom session for secondary school students to talk with a panel of community leaders like City Council Member Sarah Lopez about service projects and needs around the city. After the panel discussion, the trio opened up applications to students who wanted to create a service-learning project based on needs they see in their immediate communities.
The 11 USD 259 grant recipients are:
- Kylie LeValley (junior at Wichita North High School): Will create 150 meal bags for the unhoused population in Wichita.
- Toller Phipps (senior at Wichita Heights High School): Will set up a voter registration and information booth.
- Elizabeth Anglin (senior at Wichita North High School): Will create a resource guide and organize a hygiene drive to create at least 100 hygiene kits to donate to public schools.
- Truc Dao (senior at Wichita South High School): Will organize youth-led community panels to help give young people a platform to give voice to and address the issues they care about.
- Brynn Lyman’s freshman AVID Class at Wichita Heights High School: Will create a school pantry of hygiene products and basic necessities.
- Kayci Hockman (senior East High School): Will raise money and collect supplies to help families in need in Wichita.
- DeAnne McGinley’s FCCLA club at Wichita Heights High School: Will run a donation drive
- Giselle Martinez (junior at North High School): Will create and distribute care kits with hygiene items and food for families in Wichita
- Amy Nguyen (senior at Wichita South High School): Will organize a storytelling project called the Positive Outlooks Project in which she collects stories of people’s perspectives on mental health and well-being.
- Aryanna Ramirez (student at Hyde Elementary): Will organize a school/community drive for the foster care children at Wichita Children’s Home.
- Andrew Le (junior at Wichita Southeast High School): Will create kits to distribute to the unhoused population in Wichita.
Between now and the end of April, students will carry out their projects with guidance from the university students. On April 24, all of the USD 259 students will present about their projects at an event at Wichita State University.
The initiative’s success will be measured by changes in the volunteering hours and/or rates through a service tracking system used by Wichita Public Schools. Other success measurements will also include anticipated changes in the community volunteer rate as measured by the Volunteering in America report.
Chauncey said it is rewarding to watch the high school students learn from this process, but it has also been a learning experience for the university students.
“The grant writing process was cool in itself, being able to learn how to do that,” she said. “It’s something I wish we had had in high school; it’s an opportunity not a lot of people get. I’ve learned a lot from it.”
Learn more about the YSA grant in an OpEd written by Jadie Chauncey that was published by the Wichita Eagle and in the news release announcing this program.