Telling Your Rotary Club’s Story on Social Media: Posting on Local Blogs

Using social media to tell the story of your Rotary club does not mean focusing only on your club’s own website, blog, or Facebook/Twitter accounts. It may be useful to post stories on websites and blogs that have a stronger readership base than your own.

The main local blog for my club’s community is “The Hill Is Home”. So I started writing posts for that blog, not directly about our club, but about the really great work of our nonprofit partners and how we are working with them. This may help not only our club, but also the local blog on which I post hopefully useful stories as well as the nonprofits we work with. It seems to be win-win for all parties and it may help in promoting volunteer work more generally.

In case this may be helpful as an illustration of the approach, the text of two recent posts are reproduced below. Note that in each post I provide basic information on our club and how to be contacted in the note at the bottom of each post. Each post has a picture from the respective nonprofits reproduced here. Please don’t hesitate to share your own views on how to use social media by posting a comment.

Example 1 – Post published after a speaker from a local nonprofit partner came to our club – “Reaching Out to the Homeless: Capitol Hill Group Ministry”

HART06

This week Abby Sypek was the guest speaker at our bi-weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill. Abby is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Capitol Hill Group Ministry. She has worked in homeless services in DC for almost three years and is passionate about ending homelessness in the District. Before moving to DC, she worked in the non-profit sector for over ten years.

I was impressed by Abby’s personal commitment and outgoing personality, the work of Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM), and the opportunities the organization provide for volunteers who would like to help. CHGM provides a comprehensive suite of services for homeless families and individuals, ranging from homelessness prevention to helping those on the street regain access to housing and connecting them to health services, among others.

One of their innovative programs is HART, which stands for Homeless Assistance Response Team. HART volunteers are trained in street outreach techniques and processes to be able to help the homeless access shelter, especially on hypothermic nights. When temperatures are very low, the body may lose heat and lead to hypothermia, which can ultimately lead to death. This makes it essential to have volunteers checking on those who need shelter. But the program also runs at other times of the year to provide snacks and seasonally appropriate supplies as needed. The fact that the program runs year-long is a great way to build relationships with those who are homeless and make sure that if they need support, such support can indeed be provided.

HART is operated by volunteers to complement outreach by case workers. The program is coordinated by Abby. It is not only beneficial for the homeless, but also for volunteers who often find the experience highly rewarding. As part of our Capitol Hill Pro Bono Initiative, our Rotary club is partnering with Capitol Hill Group Ministry in order to conduct a rapid assessment of the benefits of HART not only for the homeless and volunteers, but also for the city.

If you would like to volunteer with CHGM through the HART program, you can register for their volunteer training which typically takes place once a month on the third Tuesday of the month. This is likely to be a great experience that you will not regret. The next training is on August 16 and you can sign up to attend here. All are welcome!

 Quentin Wodon is President of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill which meets every second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7:30 AM at the Dubliner on F Street. To contact him, or to learn more about the Capitol Hill Pro Bono Initiative, please send him an email through the Contact Me page of his blog at www.rotarianeconomist.com.

Example 2 – Post published before a speaker from a local nonprofit partner came to our club – “Enabling Disadvantaged Youths to Succeed: Latin America Youth Center”

LAYC

More than 17,000 young adults ages 18-24 in the Washington Metropolitan Area are considered as disconnected from work and school. Quite a few of them live in or near Capitol Hill. These youth are often from low-income families. They are not in school and out of work. They typically face multiple challenges, including homelessness, issues with the courts, or substance abuse. These challenges prevent them from successfully transitioning into adulthood. There is hope, however, in that programs reaching out to these youths have been proven to work.

The number of nonprofits in the District that have implemented rigorous impact evaluations of their programs for disadvantaged youths is small. Latin America Youth Center (LAYC) is one of them. The organization uses an innovative approach to address the needs of youth at especially high risk. Its Promotor Pathway is a long-term, intensive, holistic case management and mentorship intervention. Data from a five year randomized controlled trial impact evaluation suggest that the program has led to positive changes in terms of increasing school enrollment, reducing birth rates, and reducing homelessness among youth participating in the program. The evaluation report is available on the website of the Urban Institute.

The Promotor Pathway program is a flagship initiative for LAYC, but the organization also runs other programs, including in the areas of education, workforce readiness, housing, community building, mental health services, arts, and healthy recreation. LAYC was founded in 1968. Today, it serves 4,000 individuals per year. As a result there are plenty of ways for you to get involved if you would like to help. In order to volunteer, simply go to their website, and check for opportunities under the “Get Involved” section of the site. By volunteering, you can really make a difference in the life of the less fortunate with a top notch local nonprofit.

One last thing: Shayna Scholnick, the Director of the Promotor Pathway program for the District, will be guest speaker at our bi-weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill on Tuesday August 23. As part of our Capitol Hill Pro Bono Initiative, my Rotary club is partnering with LAYC to help Shayna conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the Promotor Pathway program. If you would like to know more about the program or LAYC more generally, please feel free to join our Rotary club meeting that day. All are welcome to join.

Quentin Wodon is President of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill which meets every second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7:30 AM at the Dubliner on F Street. To contact him, or to learn more about the Capitol Hill Pro Bono Initiative, please send him an email through the Contact Me page of his blog at www.rotarianeconomist.com.

Education innovations for disadvantaged students in Washington DC

Can internship and mentorship programs help students graduate from high school and prepare them for colleges and careers? What type of support is needed for the most disadvantaged youth, including those who suffer from homelessness? Do tutoring programs help students learn? How can we improve the research, writing, and presentation skills of middle and high school students? 

These are some of the questions considered in a new series of briefs on innovations in education in the greater Washington DC, area of the United States.  The series is launched jointly by the World Bank Group’s (WBG) education team, the WBG Community Connections Program (the WBG’s outreach program to the local community), and the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill. We hope to contribute to better education outcomes not only in the DC area but also elsewhere by showcasing innovative programs that make a positive difference in the life of students and how well they learn.

Why focus on DC? The WBG’s mission is to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. While living standards in DC are better than in the developing work, poverty rates remain high and only about two thirds of students complete high school according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. While improvements have been achieved in recent years, innovations are needed to improve education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged children and youth.

The  briefs, in a small but meaningful way, will hopefully contribute to debates on how to improve education by featuring successful programs and policies. The programs and policies featured in the briefs will likely be relevant for other regions in the United States and developing countries with similar challenges.

The first set of briefs in the series feature non-profits that benefited from monitoring and evaluation grants from the WBG’s Community Connections Program or pro bono evaluation support provided by World Bank staff. The Latin America Youth Center (LAYC), One World Education, and the Urban Alliance are among the nonprofits featured in the briefs released on the occasion of the WBG’s Volunteer Awareness Day on May 10.

Below is a brief description of the work of the three organizations together with links to the briefs on these organizations.

LAYC: Some 17,400 young adults aged 18 – 24 who are from the Washington Metropolitan Area are disconnected from work and school. These youth are often from low-income families, are not in school, and are out of work. They typically face multiple challenges, including homelessness, issues with the courts, or substance abuse. These challenges prevent them from successfully transitioning into adulthood. LAYC uses an innovative approach called the ‘Promotor Pathway’ to target high-risk youth.  It’s a long-term, intensive, holistic case management and mentorship intervention which has led to positive changes in school enrollment, birth rates, and homelessness.

One World Education: During the 2015-16 school year, One World Education worked with District of Columbia Public Schools as a partner for the ‘Cornerstone’ initiative. Cornerstones are high-quality, in-depth core curricular experiences such as argumentative writing programs. Cornerstones aim to provide rigorous content to students, improved professional development for teachers, and continuity and consistency across grades and subjects. Some 5,200 students in 15 DC public schools in grades 10 and 12 have already participated in the One World Education programs.

Urban Alliance:  This non-profit organization, which operates in DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and Northern Virginia, facilitates the transition of disadvantage youth from high school to college to employment. It does so by running a comprehensive early employment program that provides access and exposure to professional networks for youth enrolled in the program. Urban Alliance staff train and mentor the students through their first professional employment opportunities, which help propel them to future success. Over 90 percent of Urban Alliance alumni go on to college. The WBG has participated in the Urban Alliance program since 1997 and supported over 300 students through internships. Results from an external evaluation suggest that the Urban Alliance program improves high school graduation rates and the likelihood that students will go to college after graduation.

The objective of the series of briefs is to document these and other successful programs, so that they can inform education policy and practice not only in DC, but also elsewhere. If you are living in the Greater Washington, DC, area and if you have an idea for a potential brief in the series, please let me know or post your idea in the comment section below.

This post is reproduced with minor changes from a post published by the author on May 9, 2016 on the World Bank Education for Global Development blog.