Carlos Velazquez of the Milwaukee Fire Department demonstrates how he displays good citizenship through his role as a firefighter.
April 23, 2018
Written by Amy Narr, community school coordinator at Lincoln Avenue Elementary
The Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership (MCSP) Neighborhood Grant is an opportunity given by United Way that is meant to strengthen the relationship between schools and their local communities in tangible ways that can benefit both the school and the local neighborhood.
The grant, which Lincoln Avenue applied for with the support of the KK River Neighbors in Action (KKRNIA), allowed us to team up and work with 3rd graders on civic engagement and volunteerism in their community. Since the third grade curriculum covers local (City) government, this project easily tied into classroom work but also took the students outside and into their community to get them thinking about how they can contribute to society.
The project started with close reading activities about government and civic engagement in the classrooms, and then the students heard from guest speakers Peggy West, former county supervisor of District 12, and Carlos Velazquez, firefighter with the Milwaukee Fire Department, on the importance of getting involved and standing up for your beliefs and values, even at an early age. The students also took a field trip to City Hall that involved meeting Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderman Jose Perez, Alderwoman Coggs, and various other councilmen and city workers. The students took tours of the City Hall building and were exposed to different types of professions. After this, various important issues in our City were brought to the students’ attention and they partook in a kit-packing (toothpaste, wipes, granola bars, etc) activity. Over 80 care packages from Lincoln students will be donated to Street Angels, a nonprofit shelter in Milwaukee.
The final piece of this project is be a neighborhood cleanup that is scheduled for April 30 in honor of Arbor Day and Earth Day. With the guidance of teachers and a local neighborhood group, students will spend an afternoon outdoors cleaning and beautify the streets around Lincoln Avenue Elementary. KKRNIA President Travis Hope and his group have extended the cleanup invitation to residents in the neighborhood, MPD District 2 officers, Sixteenth Street Community Health Center workers, and other community organizations. A hot dog lunch for all participants at Lincoln Avenue Elementary will follow.
Thanks to the MCSP Neighborhood Grant, our students have a better understanding of what a community is, how communities work together to improve, and how to be a responsible community member. They have learned how responsible community members advocate for their ideas, use creative thinking to resolve conflicts or differences, and can work with their resources to make their community a better place.
Want to have an impact on local students’ success? Volunteer at a Milwaukee Public School for the My Very Own Library book fair event!