Thursday, November 30, 2006

Grants creates programs to fight poverty

from The Advance Titan

by Felicia Clark, of the Advance Titan

UW-Oshkosh will participate in a new project through classes to try solving poverty issues in the Oshkosh community during the 2007 spring semester.

The program’s projects are put into the syllabi of the classes taught by assigned faculty members. These chosen faculty members will teach students before sending them to work with people of all ages in the community.

“I think this is an important resource connection as women, children, and persons of color are disproportionately affected by poverty,” said Jennifer Castillo, director of the Women’s Center.

Students will use their knowledge and skills to work with elementary, middle and high school children, as well as adults in the Oshkosh community.

“As an instructor I will be able to provide some ideas and/or feedback on the activities, but the fun part is that it really is the students’ activity,” Castillo said.

The UW-Extension Innovative Project Fund awarded Oshkosh a $20,000 grant for the program. It is also sponsored by the American Democracy Project.

“This is another ‘planned giving’ program, with students and faculty interacting, partnering, sharing and giving to this community in a variety of ways,” said Margaret Michelina Manzi, assistant vice chancellor for curricular affairs.

The money will be divided among eight faculty members participating, so each will receive enough for the professional development of their class’s project.

“We focused on community engagement, making this another American Democracy Project that is reflective of civic engagement opportunity on this campus,” said Manzi.

Judy Lambert, an education professor, will let students give children literacy training from the Fox Valley Region’s Big Brothers Big Sisters, using games and other activities at the Oshkosh Public Library.

Another education professor at Oshkosh, Kelli Saginak, will let students, with help from the Light School House, develop ways to expand career development and social skills for Webster Stanley Elementary School students.

Castillo’s class will teach students to work as a team to initiate hands-on activities that will address local poverty needs and issues.

“I think this is a great idea. It provides an innovative way of learning for students and beneficial outcomes for the community,” said Castillo. “Both the university and community benefit.”

Students interested in taking one of the courses can contact one of the faculty members to check for availability of the programs.

“I have been a big sister for about 12 years,” said Lambert. “I know first hand the impact one can have on a child.”

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