School champions identify and recruit youth into our programs, and they act as the main point of contact within each of the schools in which we work.
One unique thing about us is that our staff does not recruit students into our youth programs, instead, we empower educators, who know the history and stories of each student, to recruit participants on our behalf and champion our mission and vision within their school community. We call these educators, School Champions, and this role is fulfilled by teachers who volunteer their time to assist our Community Impact Team and Rising Stars from corporate partners in managing program activities through administrative duties (making copies, corresponding with parents, etc.) and classroom management.
This role is responsible for the academic and behavior monitoring of our program participants and provides support to our participating youth when ProAct’s presence at the school is absent (i.e. during school hours). School champions identify and recruit youth into our programs, and they act as the main point of contact within each of the schools in which we work. We encourage School Champions to recruit a diverse group of 12-15 students so that our cohorts consist of students with few barriers and many barriers. Not only is a diverse group of students serving and learning together, but they will be able to support each other in breaking down barriers that may limit their participation. For example, a child with adequate access to transportation may assist another student with little to no access to reliable transportation by carpooling to program activities at service projects.
We encourage and train our School Champions to understand that difference and diversity are fundamental components of the learning in service, and not just in terms of whom youth serve through their projects, but whom they work with in developing them. For this reason, we’ve structured the program to include a required ProAct 101 course delivered either in person with School Champions or online through our learning management system, ProAct University. ProAct 101 gives School Champions guidance on recruiting a diverse youth cohort at their school and to better understand their important role within ProAct.
In diverse cohorts, youth learn to:
- Argue better
- Understand and appreciate difference
- Develop empathy
- Build consensus
- Gain perspective on social issues
- Generate creative solutions
When selecting youth for our youth cohorts, School Champions consider using the following criteria to ensure a diverse group of participants:
- Social status (kids with lots of friends and kids who are disconnected)
- Academic ability (straight-A kids and those that may be struggling)
The more diverse a youth cohort, the more participating youth, and the whole school, will gain from the experience. Therefore, we have found this to be an effective strategy to alleviate the social, racial, and economic barriers to successfully execute our programs.
Each School Champion receives a monthly checklist, so they know what to do from month to month to help manage our youth programs in their school.