It’s no secret that our students care deeply about their local community. Almost 80 students are tutoring with the Crossroads program this year—that’s one in five. In a survey taken last year, 28% of students in the classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015 reported that they engage in community service outside of Marin Academy. Community involvement is a crucial part of an MA education because it allows students to use critical thinking skills and take on new responsibilities in a real-world setting. In our fast-paced world, it is important for young people to know that they can make an impact; gaining perspective and building confidence while giving back helps build a lifetime of taking responsibility in the community.
I’ve written before about civic engagement and our students and how service learning looks at MA. Several years ago, we decided to remove our community service requirement: rather than making volunteering mandatory, we focused on continuing to integrate civic engagement into our core curriculum. In addition to the service learning component of Freshman Seminar, continuing our partnership with Youth Leadership Institute through the MA Youth Philanthropy Grants Board, and educating students in a variety of classroom settings about social and community issues, the Community Action Fair is another way to nurture student involvement.
On Tuesday, representatives from almost 20 diverse local nonprofits came to campus to recruit student volunteers during MA’s first Community Action Fair. Lauren Toker, Crossroads and Community Action Program Director, connected with organizations that focus on social, economic, and environmental justice issues—and organizations that have strong volunteer programs.
“Our students have an appetite for real-world experiences that allow them gain skills that they wouldn’t necessary have exposure to in a traditional academic setting,” explains Lauren. “I think the one hurdle that so many of them face is making the time to volunteer or intern in the midst of their very busy schedules. I am here to help them locate the resources and develop the connections to make these experiences possible. Bringing a strong group of local organizations to campus is a jumping off point for many students to get involved.”
We hope that this fair will become a regular event, and that nonprofits from further away (the East Bay, San Francisco, and Sonoma) will participate so that our students from these areas can volunteer closer to their homes. In the meantime, we will continue to develop and support our students’ desire to be active in their communities in a variety of ways.
Thank you to the following Community Action Fair organizations for coming to MA:
- Bread & Roses
- Bridge the Gap College Prep
- Bring Art Back
- Canal Welcome Center
- Canal Alliance
- Ceres Project
- Go Glean
- Marin County Parks
- Marin County School Volunteers
- Marin History Museum
- Next Generation Scholars
- Special Olympics
- Teens Turning Green
- Youth on the Move
For more information or to get involved in community action fairs at MA in the future, please contant Lauren Toker.