The Winston Opportunity Project Continues with Launch
In this post, the Winston Opportunity Project welcomes Will Craig as a new addition to the blog team. He is a high school student in Winston Salem and a new member of the WOP team.
This article will be delving into the Winston Opportunity Project's new program - Launch.
This is the Winston Opportunity Project’s first blog post of 2021. To represent a new year and new beginnings, WOP introduced the second year of Career Club year—officially known as Launch, in early March. As previous readers know, Career Club is a project designed to help the disenfranchised youth of Forsyth County unlock their full academic potential through interactive and hands-on learning. Career Club encouraged students to gain interest in future careers and develop a positive relationship with their education, and Launch is an expansion on these goals and will offer more opportunities to both participants and volunteers alike in the new year.
The name Launch comes from the idea that this program supports students as they Launch their interests, goals, and visions into a reality - whether it be making a business plan, writing code, or building a prosthetic leg. Ultimately, Launch is dedicated to providing its participants with the resources, tools, and opportunities to explore their creative side, engage in career and academic enrichment, and learn in a fun manner.
Not only are working to make Launch become a larger, more impactful program in Forsyth County, we are also working to make our meetings more personalized with each and every participant, creating a learning environment where all can thrive. Personalized learning will allow for more one on one time with students and their children, where kids can receive more in-depth feedback and really address their weak points. Personalized learning programs have been shown to increase proficiency of both reading and mathematics, as children who may have begun testing below national averages, now surpass such figures (Pane 2015). This method, in combination with interactive learning that encourages and peaks children’s interest by displaying information in a fun and engaging manner, are the key concepts that are at the core of our Launch program and what drives its success.
"We are also working to make our meetings more personalized with each and every participant, creating a learning environment where all can thrive and most importantly have fun."
Launch began, officially, on March 6th, with our first meeting. Our meetings are built around activities that foster introspection and reflection on goals, interests, and vision, and in this meeting, participants were encouraged to explore goal setting with a vision board activity. In setting up a vision board, participants are not only able to create goals for themselves and a timeline for such goals, but to do so in a fun and engaging manner. These vision boards will be become the foundation on which students will work as they launch their goals into a reality. In the future, participants will be asked to reflect on their experience with Launch by reflecting on their vision boards, using it as a tool to see how their interests have changed from the hands-on experiences at Launch..
Our second meeting on March 20th was specifically catered to computer science. Several participants showed up, as each were asked to create a simple code using Scratch, a basic coding program developed by MIT. As the year continues, students' interests will become an increasingly integral part of meetings. As topics change from meeting to meeting, participants will not only be encouraged to make connections to the real world, but connections to topics they find interesting, such as business logos and artwork, or computer science and programs developed by businesses to keep track of finances.
As COVID-19 continues to impair the learning ability of students across Forsyth County, the Winson Opportunity Project has partnered with another nonprofit youth led organization known as Virtual and In person Tutoring (VIP Tutoring). We believe that this partnership will help us connect with more students and work with them as they reach their full academic potential.
We’ve also begun a partnership with another youth led organization called the Tomorrow Project. The Tomorrow project’s main goal is to help connect youth of all background to different areas of their community, as many do not have the proper engagement within their community to truly understand its dire issues. The Tomorrow Project started its journey be interviewing different youth led organizations across Winston-salem, WOP was the Tomorrow Projects’s first interview. Quote, “create a community where they could support students and provide a space where they can really explore topics that interest them.” Continued articles and increased circulation of any medium greater contribute to the winston opportunity’s project ability to make an impact across Forsyth County.
Launch has also expanded its reach by partnering with Wake Forest University to create a Friends-in-STEM mentoring program, encouraging interest of youth across a wide age range to become interested in STEM career pathways. However, the Winston Opportunity Project is not only interested providing its participants with exposure to STEM careers, WOP has also begun planning for the "Young Entrepeneurs Program", for any students interested in careers in business such as economics and business management.
For funding, WOP has received a grant made to us by another youth-led organization, Youth Grantmaker’s Association (YGA) to initiate the Launch program. By receiving consistent and sufficient funding, WOP can continue to impower youth across Forsyth County.
The men and women of tomorrow will only succeed if given the tools to do so, Launch is designed to help youth of all backgrounds home to Forsyth County the opportunity for success.
Pane, John F., et al. “How Does Personalized Learning Affect Student Achievement?” RAND Corporation, 7 Dec. 2017, www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9994.html.