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PROJECT>Me

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What:

Pro(ACT)’s signature program is Project>Me. This program’s model encourages each participating youth to evolve through the course of many community service projects and to make a meaningful impact on social issues in Indianapolis.

A fundamental tenet of our model is that our participating youth are not the recipients of community service. They are, instead, the creators and performers of community service.

Our youth do not do service solely to help others. They learn perspectives, skills, and values in the process. If they want to do an occasional project and learn a little about the host site, they can go elsewhere. If they want to do projects that have a progressive impact, experience environments they would not otherwise see, build skills in areas they might not otherwise develop, and foster meaningful relationships with fellow participants, then Project>me  is suited for them.

Our model uses field-based experiences to surprise or challenge youths’ world view and deepen youths’ abilities.

Each service project exposes our youth to something new. Youth complete projects in places that enable them to learn about neighborhoods, social issues, forms of service, and daily life patterns that are different from their own. They may meet a group from another economic background, ethnic heritage, religious upbringing, or physical landscape, for example. Eventually the youth will become familiar with the issues and pulse of each neighborhood they serve. In the process, they will learn why people live as they do; how jobs, transportation, and other factors affect the paths of families and neighborhoods; and what makes some service interventions more effective than others. They will also build skills in event planning, logistics, volunteer training and supervision, demographic research, interviewing, and other topics that will transform them from naïve or reactive community servants into informed, reflective, and intentional servants.

Our model also teaches youth to enjoy, appreciate, and cultivate relationships.

Each year we recruit small cohorts of youth who are of similar age. Each cohort will include perhaps just ten youth at a time so those boys and girls can get to know each other well from one project to the next. We do not want participants to show up at one project, meet one or two others, and then come to the next project and see an entirely different set of peers. With small and consistent groups, conversations will flow and youth will encourage, challenge, entertain, and learn from each other week after week. To cultivate teamwork and maturity, our activities will center on youths’ participation and leadership, without involvement from parents or guardians.

Use milestone activities to encourage and mark progress from year to year.

Click here for Service Learning Progression Table 2014

  • Youth will have a clear understanding of the progress we expect them to achieve.
  • Youth will become more knowledgeable, intentional, and independent as they advance toward their capstone individual service projects.
  • Youths’ activities will gradually shift from community service toward preparation for postsecondary education and careers, as depicted in the graph that follows.

model

Early years of participation: Learning and Reflection

For each youth, the first two to three years of involvement will focus on learning and reflection across several social issues. The boys and girls may learn about subjects such as homelessness, immobility, poverty, neighborhood decay and revitalization, art, urban gardening, and access to transportation. Besides meeting for community service projects, the youth will visit college campuses and workplaces once each month throughout the year. These activities will give youth a clear sense of direction and personal potential.

Middle years of participation: Deep Exploration of an Issue

Midway through high school, the youth will choose certain social issue(s) to explore in depth as a cohort. They will create and run a service project expressly to address a social issue of the group’s choosing. They will read about that issue, listen to guest speakers, interview experts in the field, and visit places affected by the issue. In addition, they will design and raise funds for a summer travel experience that will teach them about a community far beyond Indianapolis. They might visit Washington, DC; a famous historical site; a national park; or another distant venue.

Final year of participation: Independent Capstone Project

In senior year, each youth will further examine a social issue of that student’s choosing, culminating in a capstone project that incorporates service, observation, reflection, field and literature research, analysis, and synthesis. Different youth may focus on different social issues.

Service-Learning Credits

Each year, students will receive credit from Pro(ACT) for the number of service projects they have completed and for the number of issues they have explored in depth. These credits will help us track the youths’ learning and will make the youth eligible for awards each year. Youth may also receive service learning or academic credit from their schools, depending on the policies of their schools’ teachers and administrators.

Where:

Project>me is currently located in Lawrence Township, Indianapolis, Indiana. We meet at the Cottages of Fall Creek Recreational Center (5653 Brendon Way North Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46226).

Who:

All children and teens ages 12-18 (7th-12th grades) of any race, faith, or background.

When:

Every Saturday for 12-weeks during the Fall and Spring semesters of school.

How:

10351894_894920027226214_2462998335638630477_nWe are intentional about building relationships with our youth participants. Our program model focuses on engaging cohorts of 10-20 students in public service. Therefore, any youth participant who wants to get involved with Project>me must become a part of one of our cohorts. “Contact us” for information on the nearest PGTM cohort to you.

You meet us at our meeting place and we will provide transportation to the service project, snacks, and lunch for the day.

If there is no cohort near your location, consider taking charge and starting a cohort in your school! “Contact us” to learn how!

Program Goals

Our programs are designed to cultivate youths’ perspectives, skills, and values. Our effect may vary from one student to the next, but generally speaking, we expect to see these changes in each youth:

Before entering Pro(ACT) Upon completion of Pro(ACT)
Perspectives
  • Has a basic understanding of where nearby schools, grocery stores, malls, and other daily destinations are in relation to home.
    Has little understanding of what people in the neighborhood do for a living.
  • Has little understanding of why crime, homelessness, abandoned homes, and other social issues exist. Has virtually no idea who can affect those issues.
  • Knows the resources in Marion County’s townships, appreciates the city’s layout, and knows how and why neighborhoods differ in different parts of the city.
  • Understands how local businesses and nonprofits contribute to the vitality of a neighborhood.
  • Understands the history behind major social issues, knows about initiatives to address those issues, and recognizes ways to contribute to those issues’ resolution.
Skills
  • Is able to contribute to a community service project by following directions.
  • Has basic manual skills to do a project, including sweeping, hammering, painting, serving food, etc.
  • Is adept at designing the logistics for a service project.
  • Is skilled in motivating a team, assigning roles, and guiding projects to successful completion.
  • Has an array of manual skills plus the ability to interpret a situation through keen observation, active listening, and rapport with local residents.
Values
  • Has a genuine but only generally conceived desire to help others.
  • Cares about teammates, local participants at service sites, and residents affected by a project.
  • Is committed to developing the skills of teammates, ensuring high quality work, and setting a good example.
  • Manages resources responsibly and earns the trust of others.

Cost

During weekly workshops and service projects, program t-shirts, transportation, snacks, and lunch are provided for each program participant. We ask for $30/semester from each student in order to participate in Project>me.

Scholarships are available for those students needing financial assistance. Please fill out this form to apply for program scholarships.

Documents

Important Project>Me documents, policies, and procedures are listed below for your review.

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