The Youth Engagement Project’s Year in Review: The College Experience (Part II of III)

The CCE’s Youth Engagement Project (YEP) has produced many positive outcomes this year. Chief among them has been involving youth in experiences which will prepare them for the future and better equip them for the workforce. Through the creation of a successful partnership between Binghamton University and the Citizen U program, Binghamton youth were able to gain access to university resources and immerse themselves in a college setting--something they may not have experienced otherwise. These new opportunities and experiences for youth are vital in the local community where Binghamton High School’s graduated rate is estimated to be around 52%.

 Citizen U students planning events for the coming year

Since one of YEP’s goals is to engage youth in the community, AmeriCorps VISTA, Pat Madej, and Citizen U students met bi-weekly after school to brainstorm and plan community improvement projects. YEP also aims to provide youth with an environment which would be conducive to encouraging their career aspirations, and through the program’s partnership with Binghamton University, Citizen U was able to meet every week this past year in the University Downtown Center’s state of the art Community Resource Room.

 Citizen U students working with Binghamton University students in the University Downtown Center’s Community Resource Room

The technologically-equipped Community Resource Room is a resource-rich environment for the students to meet and plan projects, and the building (frequented by university students), is conveniently located half a mile from Binghamton high school. Since they have been utilizing this space every week, the Citizen U students have expressed increased enthusiasm not only in their work with the program, but in their prospects for going to college. Learning alongside university students  has inspired them and helped demystify the college experience. While Citizen U spent much of their time in this new space, YEP brought them to Binghamton University’s main campus as well.

Citizen U students partaking in Binghamton University events

In April, Citizen U sat in on a session of HDEV 116: Practicum in Leadership and Community Development, where they interacted with Binghamton University students in a Q&A session about the community. Afterwards, the youth teamed up with their new college friends for a tour of Hinman College’s dormitories and dining hall.

Later that week, Citizen U was invited to partake in a Newing College event which commemorated National Poetry and Jazz Month. This event, run by Newing Resident Assistant, Lindsay Ralbovsky, exposed Citizen U youth to Jazz and Poetry’s rich cultural forms and gave them a chance to perform their own creative work in front of a new audience.

The Youth Engagement Project has provided Citizen U and Binghamton University students with opportunities to work together in making the community a better place while exposing them to new environments and possibilities for the future. In our next and final post, we will look back on more projects which teamed Binghamton University with Citizen U to address and raise awareness of issues in the local community. 

Click here for Part III of our year in review! 

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