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