Minding the Gap

by Hannah Cushing | Apr 02, 2013
| 1 Comment

Summary:

St. Paul Public Schools serves a wide demographic of students. Sadly, there are many students who still do not have access to the tools they need to succeed in high school and beyond.

My idea is to open a storefront that would offer homework help, a music studio, classes,recording, and performance spaces. The idea is modeled after Dave Eggers' and the McSweeney's crew's 826 Valencia writing center in San Francisco.

The advantages of this model include:
* A storefront in a neighborhood that needs intervention enables local students to use homework help while saving face.
* The storefront also enables the organization to develop a business model that allows them to be sustainable and self-sufficient so that it is not reliant on donations and grants to continue its work.
* Students would need to make use of the homework help (or maintain academic standards) in order to have access to the recording studio or performance space.
* Classes and workshops would be offered in music, writing, and hidden histories (the voices and history often skimmed over in our traditional high school curriculum).
* A low student to staff ratio brings relationship to the forefront. All young adults can and will work hard when inspired by those who care about them.

This storefront youth center would support student achievement while helping youth to create and nurture positive identities and relationships with adults in their community. Nurturing music and writing helps youth deal with the complexities of their lives in healthy and productive ways. Classes are intended to address the gaps that our education system often leaves between what is "standards based" and what students want to learn.

All actions are predicated on the supposition that all youth want to learn and live happy, healthy, and productive lives if they feel that it is a viable possibility.

This idea seeks to make that a viable possibility for the youth of one neighborhood in St. Paul.

About You

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About You

First Name

Hannah

Last Name

Cushing

City

Minneapolis

County

Hennepin

Country

United States, MN, Hennepin County

Website (if you have one)

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

Adrian Gorder

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

ThreeSixty

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

Organization Website

Organization Phone

Organization Address

City

Organization Country

United States

Your idea

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Title of your idea

Minding the Gap

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

St. Paul Public Schools serves a wide demographic of students. Sadly, there are many students who still do not have access to the tools they need to succeed in high school and beyond.
My idea is to open a storefront that would offer homework help, a music studio, classes,recording, and performance spaces. The idea is modeled after Dave Eggers' and the McSweeney's crew's 826 Valencia writing center in San Francisco.
The advantages of this model include:
* A storefront in a neighborhood that needs intervention enables local students to use homework help while saving face.
* The storefront also enables the organization to develop a business model that allows them to be sustainable and self-sufficient so that it is not reliant on donations and grants to continue its work.
* Students would need to make use of the homework help (or maintain academic standards) in order to have access to the recording studio or performance space.
* Classes and workshops would be offered in music, writing, and hidden histories (the voices and history often skimmed over in our traditional high school curriculum).
* A low student to staff ratio brings relationship to the forefront. All young adults can and will work hard when inspired by those who care about them.
This storefront youth center would support student achievement while helping youth to create and nurture positive identities and relationships with adults in their community. Nurturing music and writing helps youth deal with the complexities of their lives in healthy and productive ways. Classes are intended to address the gaps that our education system often leaves between what is "standards based" and what students want to learn.
All actions are predicated on the supposition that all youth want to learn and live happy, healthy, and productive lives if they feel that it is a viable possibility.
This idea seeks to make that a viable possibility for the youth of one neighborhood in St. Paul.

Website address (if applicable)

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The 826 Valencia model is unexpected because it uses removes the stigma that would come with going to a youth center or using homework help. Many students among our target population don't want to be seen using those resources. Providing incentives like - "Hey, if you let me help you with your homework, we'll work on that rap song" - gives them an out. They can say, "I had to do it so I could record my song." Unlike many youth centers, it will hopefully become a community resource that many underserved youth WANT to use.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The long-term impact of the failure of schools to reach those in gap is no more apparent then in our prison system.
According the MN Dept. of Corrections 2013 Adult Inmate Profile - 54% of the adult inmate population did not graduate from high school traditionally.
Not only is it ethically responsible to intervene with youth before they become part of this population, it is fiscally responsible and more sustainable for our community.
According the Vera Institute of Justice, it costs Minnesotan taxpayers just over $41,000 a year to incarcerate an individual.
Over the long term, a neighborhood with an 826 Valencia style youth center would become safer, more creative, better educated, and increasingly stable.

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The storefront model of 826 Valencia provides an opportunity for fiscal independence and sustainability. It, like any meaningful effort in the realm of education, will have a ripple effect in the lives of the people it touches for generations. The effect of programs like these are often difficult to quantify, but for the lives it changes, it has the capacity to be transformative.