Grayson Bourke brings the sunshine (and flamingos!) at United Way
November 28, 2017
Written by Grayson Bourke, 2017 United Way Loaned Executive and former City Year Corps Americorps member on the United Way team at James Madison Academic Campus.
One person really can make a difference. I know this because I have. However, I did not make a difference in a vacuum. Moreover, to quote Sir Isaac Newton, “if I have seen further than others it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
My name is Grayson Bourke and I proudly work as a Loaned Executive with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County. In this role, I help about twenty businesses in the Greater Milwaukee area fundraise for their annual Community Campaign. My goal is to facilitate workplace giving campaigns by tapping into the generosity of Milwaukee’s workforce, providing United Way marketing materials, and sharing my story.
Prior to working with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County as a Loaned Executive, I served as a City Year Americorps member. City Year is a national, educational nonprofit that places young idealists between the ages of 19 and 25 in high-needs public schools throughout the nation, including Milwaukee. The mission of City Year is to end the dropout crisis in the United States, and we do that by focusing on the ABC’s: attendance, behavior and coursework. I was placed at James Madison Academic Campus for my year of service, a public high school on Milwaukee’s northwest side where 99% of students come from impoverished households.
During my time at James Madison Academic Campus, a Milwaukee Community School, I served as a tutor, mentor, and role model to freshman students. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I focused primarily on tutoring Algebra and, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I focused primarily on literacy strategies in a Citizenship class. As I taught students the inner workings of algebraic thinking and the purpose of the United States Constitution, I met some incredible young people. Namely, Mackenzie.
Mackenzie is driven, smart, and popular with her classmates. She excels at mathematics and keeps no secret about her disdain for social studies. Although Mackenzie is goal-oriented, she tends to get side-tracked and lose focus when she is around her friends. Mackenzie, as it turns out, was placed on my math “focus list”: this means that Mackenzie is below grade level in math and would be working with me to push her to grade level during my year of service. As a result, I worked with Mackenzie and two other girls every Tuesday and Thursday on their Algebra coursework.
With the right encouragement, guidance and clear expectations Mackenzie began to focus and as a result began to grow exponentially in her mathematical ability. After many hours of structured intervention, Mackenzie achieved proficiency, even mastery, in certain math subject areas.
Now, Mackenzie plans to attend college, play basketball, and to one day become a statistician. Nothing compares to seeing a student succeed after seeing them work so hard.
Remember the Isaac Newton quote about seeing further than others? Well, none of this would have been possible without the groundwork and generous support of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County’s Community Fund. United Way is the primary team sponsor for the Whole School, Whole Child model that is implemented by City Year AmeriCorps members at James Madison Academic Campus. If these Community Fund dollars stopped coming to James Madison, Mackenzie and dozens like her wouldn’t reach their greatest potential. An investment in the Community Fund is an investment in the James Madison Academic Campus, an investment in me as a Corps Member, and in Mackenzie as a scholar. That is the difference that a donation to the United Way Community Fund makes. Will you help us live united? Pledge now.
Learn more about United Way program partner City Year, Inc.
Learn more about how you or your organization can get involved in United Way’s Loaned Executive program.