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What Does it Mean to “Make a Difference” at Avenues?

These days, we see our students deeply affected by environmental sustainability, population health and wellness and social justice, and are eager to engage in activism and mobilize. At Avenues, we constantly ask ourselves, “How can our children turn that passion into action?”

There are established approaches in education: “Community service” can be defined as assisting the community, giving to the less fortunate, and helping those that serve to learn about compassion, commitment, and empathy. “Service-learning” is when students align the aspects above with learning objectives and curricular goals. These methods have made a difference at Avenues locally through volunteering at our neighborhood soup kitchen, building robots in partnership with a local community organization, or using writing and design to build connections at a nearby public school.

As a World School, Avenues also developed an approach that combines community service and service-learning with local and global connections. We utilize five guiding principles:****

  1. Engage with partner organizations and communities with humility, courage, and awareness of our privilege.
  2. Through pilots and research, build or find evidence of programs that will achieve the most effective and efficient results and select projects that maximize the impact of resources invested.
  3. Build sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships with communities and organizations to build capacity and create an impact greater than the reach of the individual campuses.
  4. Given Avenues’ global footprint, projects with a focus on service should be both global and local in nature, the split of these should be roughly 50/50, skewing towards global in the future.
  5. Promote, incentivize, and celebrate exemplars of social impact work.

Examples of social impact work can include:

  • Leading a three-month-long community mask-making campaign for local groups in need in response to a global pandemic.
  • Supporting homebound community seniors during a global pandemic by writing cards making phone calls in their target language.
  • 6th graders striking up a relationship with a local activist passionate about rising sea-levels to drive their World Course and Science curriculum.

The examples above require a proactive, meaningful, and painstaking approach to ensure action and learning profoundly authentic and impactful - and that’s what making a difference is all about.

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