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Teach for America

TFA Graduate Fellows Program hosts Ballot & Brunch

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The Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State University hosted “Ballot & Brunch” Nov. 11 at the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland.

Guests were invited to become active participants in re-imagining Mississippi with the TFA Graduate Fellows.

The program is a collaboration between Delta State and TFA. The fellowship’s role is to retain TFA alumni in Mississippi by offering the opportunity to continue their education in graduate school at DSU and to nurture their passion for enhancing the state.

The fellowship is a two-year program that currently has two cohorts for a total of 19 TFA alumni. Each fellow is pursuing their individualized social entrepreneurship project (SE) that addresses local issues.

“These folks are actively using their unique skills and passion, and applying it to the betterment of Mississippi through their social entrepreneurship projects,” said Harrison Wood, program coordinator for the fellowship.

Each fellow had the opportunity to invite individuals to the Ballot & Brunch who they consider to be mentors, collaborators or stakeholders in their SE project. TFA staff, DSU coordinators and potential future TFA fellows were also in attendance.

“It was a powerful event to experience,” Wood said. “Everyone in the space was invited because our fellowship believes that they are actively using their passions and work to better our wonderful Mississippi. In the room, we had people who were responsible for the creation of this opportunity. There were many folks representing TFA and DSU, and many were considered to be mentors and stakeholders to our TFA Fellows.”

The brunch was a brainstorming opportunity for attendees to propose ideas for advancing Mississippi followed by a pitch/networking competition among the fellows and their projects.

After brunch, each fellow presented a powerful one-minute pitch about their SE project. During the pitch, they addressed the Mississippi community that is being served, the need the project is meeting, and how they plan to execute their project. Participants then provided visuals of their projects set up in the space.

Once guests were able to network with the fellows, everyone had the opportunity to vote on the SE project they would support and like to see come to fruition.

The top-three presenters received a scholarship stipend to bring their projects to reality:

1st Place ($500)– Jeremiah Smith, Rosedale with Rosedale Freedom Project
2nd Place ($400) – Charlotte Arrowsmith, Greenwood with Open Minds
3rd Place ($300) – Lucas Rapisarda, Rosedale with Rosedale Freedom Project Outdoor Program

In addition to the Ballot & Brunch winners, the program able to award nine fellows with the Supply Stipend Award. The fellows were given the opportunity to apply for up to $3,000 of awards that will be dedicated to the advancement of their project.

“The TFA Graduate Fellows Program is thrilled to be able to support the TFA Fellows social entrepreneurship projects outside of providing university resources, formal mentorship, cohort collaboration, and community service opportunities,” said Wood. “Supporting them financially with the Supply Stipend Award is evidence that the fellowship actively supports the changemaking efforts they are working towards in a real tangible way.”

The project is funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The principal goal of the foundation is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

For more information on the program, visit www.tfafellows.com.

TFA Graduate Fellows complete retreat

By | Academics, Community, Continuing Education, Graduate and Continuing Studies, Students, Teach for America | No Comments

Delta State University’s Graduate and Continuing Studies department recently completed its second annual immersion retreat for the Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program.

The program is a collaboration between Teach For America and Delta State University, offering 20 Teach For America alumni support while working to launch and run a social entrepreneurship project in the Mississippi communities they serve, while also completing a graduate degree program of their interest.

This year’s cohort includes: AK Suggs, Alexis Williams, Catie Denham, Charlotte Arrowsmith, JJ Townsend, Kaitlyn Barton, Latasha Capers, Leigh Hill, Lucas Rapisarda, MK Honeycutt, and Sean Brown.

The retreat offered the fellows the opportunity to refine their leadership skills while also being introduced to entrepreneurial perspectives when tackling social problems. Additionally, the cohort was required to disconnect from their day-to-day stresses and devote all their energy for four days to the retreat. The cohort had the privilege of staying at a cabin directly on the Mississippi River which allowed for stunning sights and sounds, refreshing walks and a beautiful setting to collaborate.

Participants focused on the expansion of their proposed social venture projects through vision setting, customer discovery, probes and prototypes. Spud Marshall served as the facilitator for the retreat. Marshall is the chief catalyst for co.space, an international network of homes for change-makers that launched in State College, Pennsylvania. He is also the co-founder of New Leaf, a nonprofit social innovation incubator in State College.

“We offered the cohort tangible tools for them to use by providing a framework and space to plan out the implementation and design of their projects,” said program coordinator Harrison Wood. “Our retreat was an incredible success. They became more than simply a group of TFA alumni, but rather, a group that will continue to intentionally support and collaborate with one another as they make steps towards change in Mississippi over the next two years.”

The group also visited with Ben Lewis and Amanda Johnson, who are both leading social enterprises in Clarksdale. The trip provided fellows an opportunity to visualize and learn from entrepreneurs who have pursued ventures positioned in a rural area. Wrapping up their visit to Clarksdale, the cohort canoed the Mississippi River with John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, fostering a team-building experience for the participants.

To complete the fellowship, each participant will focus on social entrepreneurship, while simultaneously completing a graduate degree at Delta State. The cohort will regularly convene to share experiences in a collaborative environment, allowing participants to develop goals.

“We’re delighted that our alumni have an opportunity to further invest their talents and demonstrate their devotion to Mississippi and the Delta in this structured, creative way,” said Teach For America’s Ron Nurnberg. “It’s been terrific for me to see this opportunity move from dream, to discussion, to planning, to unfurling. I’m eager to see this potential unleashed and improving the quality of life for all of us.”

The project is funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The principal goal of the foundation is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

For more information on the program, visit www.tfafellows.com.

Delta State hosts eighth TFA Delta Institute

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Delta State University recently welcomed Teach For America back to campus as the organization kicked off its eighth year of training hosted by Delta State.

Approximately 240 corps members and staff members began the intensive summer curriculum for the 2017 TFA Delta Institute.

“We are excited to welcome Teach For America back to our campus again this summer,” said Leigh Emerson, assistant director of Communications and Marketing at Delta State. “We’re very grateful that Delta State and TFA have maintained this partnership since 2010.”

TFA is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors and career interests who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity.

These corps members work in school districts challenged by poverty, geography or other issues. Their training to teach begins at summer institutes, and Delta State is one of just a handful of training facilities across the nation.

This year’s participants come from Appalachia, Arkansas, Louisiana Delta, Mississippi and South Louisiana.

“We’re so glad to be back at Delta State this summer and with many school district partners across the Mississippi Delta,” said Rachel Brainerd, senior managing director for the institute. “Having a community of people working together to support our corps members and staff makes such a difference.”

“The Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed their return, and each year, we’re thankful for the support received from the greater Cleveland community,” added Emerson.

Learn more about TFA at https://www.teachforamerica.org. Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

 

TFA graduate fellows kick off program at Delta State

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Delta State University’s Graduate and Continuing Studies department recently completed its inaugural week-long immersion experience for the new Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program.

Teach For America and Delta State University are piloting the new innovative two-year fellowship program to teach 10 Teach For America alumni how to launch and run a social venture in the communities they serve while also completing a graduate degree program of their interest.

During the immersion week, the cohort refined their leadership skills while also being introduced to entrepreneurial perspectives when tackling social problems.

“We offered the cohort tangible tools for them to use by providing a framework and space to plan out the implementation and design of their projects,” said program coordinator Harrison Wood. “During our week together, we weaved in aspects of school leadership, Mississippi Delta history and community engagement. Our week was met with unbelievable success. The fellows were able to foster a ‘think-tank’ like environment, which will enable them to use one another as a resource throughout the length of the fellowship, and hopefully longer, as they each continue to positively impact Mississippi.”

The week opened with Dr. Samuel Jones, a professional keynote speaker and author who specializes in the area of leadership development. Participants then had the opportunity to take part in a Delta tour with The Delta Center for Culture and Leaning to gain a greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta culture and history.

For the next two days, the schedule focused on the expansion participants’ proposed social entrepreneurship projects. The facilitators for these days included Spud Marshall and Alexis Taylor. Marshall is the chief catalyst for co.space, an international network of homes for change-makers that launched in State College, Pennsylvania. He is also the co-founder of New Leaf, a nonprofit social innovation incubator in State College. Taylor, of Austin, Texas, is the program manager and facilitator for 3 Day Startup, an international non-profit organization that builds entrepreneurial capabilities in students and employees at colleges, corporations, organizations and governments.

On the final day, the cohort visited KIPP-Delta and the Thrive Center, both operational social enterprises in Helena, Arkansas. This trip provided the fellows an opportunity to visualize and learn from fruitful social ventures positioned in a rural area. The week closed with an afternoon canoe trip on the Mississippi River with John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, fostering a team-building experience for the participants.

Fellow Boyce Upholt was thrilled to begin the program.

TFA graduate fellows spent the week introducing entrepreneurial perspectives and social issues.

TFA graduate fellows spent the week introducing entrepreneurial perspectives and social issues.

“Immersion week was a great chance to get to know the other fellows in the program, and to begin to thought partner about how to accomplish our goals,” said Upholt. “Our projects are in varying states of development, from kernels of ideas to already operational programs, but we all walked away with tangible next steps, as well as inspiring examples of what entrepreneurship can look like in this region.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to partner with the fellows, our support staff, and the faculty in my academic program. I’m aiming to use storytelling to better connect Deltans with one another, and with their local landscape, and I can’t think of a better program for doing so.”

To complete the fellowship, each participant will focus on social entrepreneurship, while simultaneously completing a graduate degree at Delta State. The cohort will regularly convene to share experiences in a collaborative environment, allowing participants to develop goals.

The project is funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The principal goal of the foundation is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

Applications for the 2017 cohort will open Jan. 1, 2017. For more information on the program, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/graduate-and-continuing-studies/tfa-graduate-fellows-program or call 662-846-4700.

Delta State prepares for 7th TFA Institute

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Delta State is making preparations for TFA’s 7th institute that will be housed on campus. Approximately 350 corp members and staff are set to arrive June 12 to begin the 2016 Teach For America Delta Institute.

“We are excited to welcome Teach For America back to our campus again this summer,” said Leigh Emerson, assistant director of Communications and Marketing at Delta State. “A few of the TFA operation directors have been here before, so they have knowledge of how everything works. I am very grateful that the Delta State team has been here since 2010 when TFA first came to campus. They know what needs to be done, and they do a great job of working with their TFA leaders.”

This year’s corp members will come from Appalachia, Arkansas, Louisiana Delta, Mississippi, South Carolina and South Louisiana.

“We hope the Cleveland community will welcome them back to the Mississippi Delta,” added Emerson.

Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors and career interests who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity. These corps members work in school districts challenged by poverty, geography or other issues. Their training to teach begins at summer institutes and Delta State is one of the 10 institutes across the nation.