Foundation Academies Hosts Inaugural Civic Service Learning Summer Camp

Our CSL camp culminated on a high note with a successful student-coordinated anti-violence march on July 26. Check out our CSL camp scholars with Mayor Gusciora and Moms Demand Action at their march, entitled “Let’s Walk For A Change!” Students investigated the issue of gun violence in Trenton and coordinated an anti-violence march to let their voices be heard. As rising 10th grader Leah Gause said, “We believe that gun-violence in Trenton shouldn’t be increasing as the years go on, but instead decreasing as we make a change. Thank you, everyone, for coming out and walking with us. We look forward to seeing a decrease in the community as the years go on.”
On July 26, our CSL camp scholars pose with Mayor Gusciora and Moms Demand Action at the culmination of their student-organized anti-violence walk, entitled “Let’s Walk For A Change!”

This summer, a group of our middle and high school scholars participated in Foundation Academies’ first-ever Civic Service Learning (CSL) Camp, held at 363 West State Street from July 8-26. 

Typically, CSL is offered as a course for our high school juniors. This summer camp experience expanded CSL to include middle schoolers for the first time. Lead by two Foundation Collegiate Academy alumni, Courtney Boone (2015) and Siani Crowell (2015), along with Leola Spotwood (TCHS, 2008), and current Princeton University student and Foundation Academy intern Krystal Cohen, the three-week camp welcomed 23 scholars in grades six through eleven. 

Civic Service Learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a pragmatic, progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs. 

Created in 2016 for high school juniors, the CSL course focuses on “problem-based” learning with the goal of ensuring our students see themselves as part of a solution to a community issue or need. Through CSL, students explore the idea of community – defining what it means to them – and envisioning what they want Trenton to look like. 

In the program, students brainstorm and develop an essential question, thoroughly investigate their chosen area of interest, explore what makes community development effective, prepare a proposal, present it, project-manage, market, collaborate with community partners, and finally, put their plan into action with implementation supported by their peers, teachers, and advisors. Afterward, students reflect and share their work, presenting their final results. This method of learning fosters volunteerism, academic study, and the development of practical skills useful for college, career, and adult life. 

This summer camp experience followed the CSL course model with scholars volunteering at local organizations, participating in skill-building workshops, and working on a special anti-violence project with the help of community partners like Moms Demand Action. The traditional CSL course requires high schoolers to commit to 80 hours of community service, and campers had the opportunity to earn up to 36.25 service hours, giving them a head start over their summer break. 

The camp culminated on a high note, with a successful student-coordinated anti-violence walk on July 26, along with special guests Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora and Moms Demand Action. Students investigated the issue of gun violence in Trenton and organized the walk to let their voices be heard.

As rising 10th grader Leah Gause said, “We believe that gun-violence in Trenton shouldn’t be increasing as the years go on, but instead decreasing as we make a change. Thank you, everyone, for coming out and walking with us. We look forward to seeing a decrease in the community as the years go on.”

Here are a few more of our favorite CSL Camp highlights!

Huge thank you to Moms Demand Action/Students Demand Action for speaking to our scholars on how they spread awareness about gun violence across the country, showing our scholars that they can make a difference by taking initiative.
Our Civic Service Learning Camp scholars had a blast volunteering at Sprout U School of Arts, where they lent a hand in summer camp classrooms and helped get the building in shape for the next school year. Huge thank you to Danielle, owner of SproutU, for welcoming us into her school!
Our Civic Service Learning Camp scholars had a blast volunteering at Sprout U School of the Arts, where they lent a hand in summer camp classrooms and helped get the building in shape for the next school year. Huge thank you to Danielle, owner of SproutU, for welcoming us into her school!
Huge thank you to Bruce Boyd, founder of the nonprofit organization Building Our Youth’s Development (B.O.Y.D.), for speaking to our scholars about the concepts of advocacy and community organizing. Scholars learned the difference between social service and social justice, between making a change for a day and making a change for a lifetime.
Huge thank you to Bruce Boyd, founder of the nonprofit organization Building Our Youth’s Development (B.O.Y.D.), for speaking to our scholars about the concepts of advocacy and community organizing. Scholars learned the difference between social service and social justice, between making a change for a day and making a change for a lifetime.
Our CSL camp scholars spent the day cleaning up Cadwalader Park. A small effort goes a long way and our scholars wanted to play their part in taking care of their city.
Our CSL camp scholars spent a day cleaning up Cadwalader Park. A small effort goes a long way and our scholars wanted to play their part in taking care of their city.
Huge thank you to Officer Worley, a Trenton native, for coming in to speak to our scholars about gun violence from a police perspective.
Huge thank you to Trenton Police Officer Worley, a Trenton native, for coming in to speak to our scholars about gun violence from a police perspective.
During their time at Arm in Arm, our CSL camp scholars picked fresh vegetables and assisted shoppers who needed assistance with groceries.
During their time at Arm in Arm, our CSL camp scholars picked fresh vegetables and assisted shoppers who needed assistance with groceries.

We’re so proud of our CSL campers and their achievements this summer!

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Michelle Lawlor

Michelle Lawlor, Marketing and Communications Associate, spearheads Foundation Academies’ marketing and communication efforts. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Multimedia Communications from Rider University.

1 Comment

  1. Peggy Krist on October 9, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Nice to see the service learning program extended to the middle school. Enjoyed seeing photos of their work this summer. Just one of many ways Foundation Academies improves the lives and possibilities for students in Trenton.

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