SLP Spring Fundraiser! by Liz Pitofsky

What a night! Thanks so much to all who came out to celebrate with us at the awesome Shapeshifter Lab  in Gowanus, Brooklyn on Wednesday night! 

In all, we raised more than $17,000 which means that close to 300 students attending school in under-served Brooklyn neighborhoods will have the opportunity to become leaders in their schools and communities. 

So many were so generous! 

Thank you to the incredibly talented artists who donated their work:  Miranda Barnes, Jenny Gage/Tom Betterton, Pamela Hanson, Lionel Koretsky, Anne Joyce, Elaine Mode, Joel Stans, MG VanderElst, Jen Ferguson, and Leslie Oberdorfer. 

Thank you to the awesome musicians who made it such a fun evening: Key Lime Pie, Chris Erikson, and Cliff Westfall...and his Electrified Honkytonk Band!   

Thank you to Blue Balloon School, Joanie Smith (Pilates), and Dumbelle for donating classes to the raffle. 

Thank you to Judith Viorst, the Wythe Hotel, La Vara, Txikito, Cipriani, Cheney Literary, John Ginns, and Vogue for their incredibly generous donations to our auction and raffle.  

Thank you to Rachel, Ashley, Olivia, and Rosa for sharing their SLP experiences. 

And for all of you who purchased tickets and came out to make it such a fun and inspiring evening- we are so grateful for your support! 



Teens in the News... by Liz Pitofsky

We are loving these teens in the news, making their voices heard: 

NYC students are calling for the City to integrate public schools and give students a voice in the process. Last weekend, students from IntegrateNYC4Me, a student-led advocacy group, organized a rally to “call attention to the necessity of including student voices in the creation of the policies that will affect us the most.” 

High school junior Tahseen Chowdhury announced his campaign to unseat New York State Senator Jose Peralta.  Explaining his decision to run, 16 year-old Tahseen said, "People are looking for someone who cares more about the people than the politics."  

New Jersey students on an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC respectfully declined to take a photo with House Speaker Paul Ryan, using the opportunity to protest his support of the Trump administration. 











Taking Up the Baton by Liz Pitofsky

Earlier this week, President Obama visited the University of Chicago and delivered the first public remarks of his post-presidency.  His comments covered a range of topics, including his plans for the next phase of his life. Going forward, he explained, his highest priority is help "prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and take their own crack at changing the world."  

Part of his task is to persuade young people that the country's problems, though serious and daunting, "are not insoluble."  Moreover, he added, many young people are very concerned about a wide range of issues but "feel as if their involvement would not make a difference, it's not worth their time...They are discouraged but feel disempowered."    

Our experience working with students of all ages confirms their deep concern about so many issues: poverty, violence, education, civil rights, climate change, and more.  And our evaluation of SLP's impact has shown that, when given a real opportunity to make their voices heard in their schools and neighborhoods, young people are significantly more optimistic about their ability to have an impact: they feel more comfortable sharing their ideas for change, they see themselves as leaders, and they feel a drive and a responsibility to solve social problems.  






When it Comes to Service Learning, Students are Community Partners by Liz Pitofsky


In this week's issue of Education Week, SLP responded to a recent op-ed, "How Can We Make Service Learning Less Self-Serving?"  In the original article, San Francisco teacher Kyle Redford shared her concern that too often service-learning efforts organized with community partners benefit the students but not the partners themselves.  Our Letter to the Editor explains how the SLP model consistently enables students to provide direct and lasting benefits to their community partners.  

Brownsville, Moving Forward by Liz Pitofsky

We love this recent article challenging the typical deficit portrayal of Brownsville, a Brooklyn neighborhood home to more than 58,000 residents, with close to 30% under the age of 18.  When Brownsville is covered by the media, the subject is typically crime, poverty, and crisis. But this piece highlights the work of a few native New Yorkers who have returned to their childhood neighborhood to open new businesses intended to benefit Brownsville residents. Their innovation and energy reminds us of the amazing teachers, staff, and students at one of SLP's partner schools, PS 446, where 50 third graders are heading into the final weeks of our Residency Program.    





Protest is Not Enough... by Liz Pitofsky

In a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine, Eric Liu, author of You're More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen, explains why protest is important but not enough.  Anyone looking to create systemic change must "outline an alternative vision of what life should look like, and work to sell people on that vision."  This strategy is a critical component of the SLP model of service learning.  We give students the tools they need not just to identify and critique a problem, but to design a research-based, positive solution.  In the final phase of their project, students work together to persuade the people or institutions responsible for causing or solving their chosen problem to implement their vision.  A group of 3rd graders in downtown Brooklyn, for example, distressed by the many, and sometimes fatal, traffic accidents involving pedestrians in NYC advocated for a slow zone in their neighborhood. Working in partnership with a local advocacy group, the students organized a petition drive and took part in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) in an effort to persuade their local Community Board of the need and neighborhood-wide demand for a slow zone.  As Mr. Liu explains, rage is not enough: we must know how to "organize and activate other people for change."  

The Era of Fake News by Liz Pitofsky

An important article about the challenges of helping young people (now more than ever) evaluate the reliability of "news" they find online.  One of the many goals of SLP is to help young people develop their research skills and, for students that have access to technology, the internet is an invaluable source of information.  But we always talk about how to determine whether the information they find online is reliable. 

And, as the Dean of Stonybrook School of Journalism explains, the fight is not just about fake news. “If you define fake news as news that’s totally fabricated,” he said, “that’s only a small part of a much bigger problem, which is this tsunami of information and misinformation, half-truths, advertising masquerading as news and opinion appearing as if it’s fact-based." 

He added, “Introducing this at the university level is way, way too late."