Photo from here
Tonight I met a friend at BAM for a screening of Waiting for Superman. My friend is a teacher in the New York City school system so it was especially nice to watch this movie with her. We had the good fortune to stay for a Q&A session with Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone (and also a large part of the movie).
After the movie, my friend and I discussed how the issues with the school systems in this country are very daunting. She talked to me about her experiences in her school and it got me thinking about what people like myself (people who are not educators) are able to do to work with the kids in the NYC school system. When I first moved to New York I researched many different volunteer opportunities in the city. I eventually signed up with iMentor and truly believe in this program.
From their website:
"iMentor's mission is to improve the lives of young people from underserved communities in New York City through innovative, technology-based approaches to youth mentoring and education.'
Their mentoring model:
"iMentor is changing the face of youth mentoring by turning two core beliefs into realities. iMentor proves that:
#1 Even the busiest, most successful professionals have time to be quality mentors.
#2 Formal mentoring programs can flourish in the most isolated, low-income, and underserved communities.
iMentor activates this under-tapped pool of mentors and connects them to NYC youth that can benefit the most from mentoring. iMentor’s pioneering, technology-enriched mentoring model makes this possible."
What drew me to this organization was their use of technology to help their mentor/mentee pairs stay in contact. This allows for a great deal of flexibility while still being able to maintain a long-term volunteer commitment. I believe that if one is able, volunteering and working within the community is an absolute necessity. To me, any kind of community involvement is significant and there are thousands of different volunteer opportunities in the city. New York Cares is a good place to start, as is Idealist.org.