July 12, 2001 - Washington DC RPCVs support the Community Bridge Project

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Reference: Service: July 12, 2001 - Washington DC RPCVs support the Community Bridge Project

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 12, 2001 - 4:23 pm: Edit Post

Washington RPCVs support the Community Bridge Program

Read and comment on this story of how the RPCVs of Washington DC support the Community Bridge Program at:

The Community Bridge Project*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

The Community Bridge Project

A project to establish a link between Montgomery County's Schools and trained international volunteer resources in the community.

What is The Community Bridge Project?

The Community Bridge Project (CBP) is an innovative program designed to connect a valuable resource to a challenged community. The resource is the cadre of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and "veterans" of other government, non-government and religious organizations who have worked around the world. Many of these individuals reside in the Takoma Park/Silver Spring area in close proximity to the people who need their services the most.

Montgomery County--Maryland's most diverse community.

Over the last two decades, Montgomery County has been transformed from a predominantly white suburban bedroom community into a multi-cultural, vibrant jurisdiction where people from every country of the globe now reside. This sudden change in demographics has created both opportunities and challenges for the public and private sectors. For instance, the County's Public School system is home to immigrants from over 200 countries. Unfortunately, too many of these students and families are having trouble succeeding in their new environs, and now comprise a large segment of Montgomery County's "challenged community." At the same time, these "challenges" have inhibited our ability to benefit from the rich and diverse cultural fabric at our doorstep.

The multi-ethnic community encompasses much of the Takoma Park, Silver Spring, and Wheaton areas, together with segments of the Rockville and Gaithersburg areas. Despite the best of intentions, numerous government programs and private initiatives, a large group of residents in this area do not share in the wealth, economic opportunity, and world-class education that are the trademarks of Montgomery County. A large proportion of these individuals are newly-arrived immigrants, Nowhere is this gap more evident than among the most vulnerable population -- our children. This activity will focus solely on Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

What are the challenges facing this community?

This area contains schools with some of the most significant challenges anywhere in Montgomery County. Over 25,000 students attend schools in this region. Of those students, nearly 45% are economically disadvantaged and 12% speak English as a second language. In addition, these schools experience a 23% turnover rate in student population each year. This combination of poverty, mobility, and language barriers can appreciably impact the academic achievement of many children, particularly those students who come from families of different cultural backgrounds. Montgomery County Public Schools recognizes that these students face an opportunity gap that manifests itself as early as kindergarten. This gap continues to widen as these students progress through school.

How can The Community Bridge Project Address These Challenges?

Traditional resources delivered in traditional ways will not succeed in addressing the needs of these students and their families. These families typically have the least amount of time or skills needed to advocate for or become involved in the education of their children. Likewise, staff and teachers will receive the cross-cultural skills and expertise they need to succeed to make learning come alive for immigrant students. For instance, Peace Corps Volunteers are given training in local languages, cross-cultural relations and community organizing. They work overseas in the developing world for two years on improving the quality of and access to education for children, keeping families healthy, and creating economic opportunities. Their training and experience, coupled with their spirit of service and dedication, are uniquely suited to the needs of the down-county area. A pilot program -- partnering Returned Peace Corps and other volunteers with two challenged schools -- could be the start of a breakthrough that is needed to end a pattern of underachievement among certain racial and ethnic groups. These individuals will be asked to utilize the skills and attitudes they developed while serving around the world to build bridges with families and school staff.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.