The Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative’s mission is to train young people to become leaders in their lives, their community and the world. This year MVYLI youth aspire to become an editor, entrepreneur, economist, environmental law, environmental scientists, green engineer, computer scientist, farmer, small farm lobbyist, doctor, nurse, physical therapist, physician’s assistant, criminal justice, college professor, special education/sign language teacher, and web designer.
MVYLI’s College Prep and Field Trip Program helps students explore their options and make good decisions aligned with their career goals. We help them identify and maximize their resources. This year we will work with a new group of juniors and seniors, some are the first in their family to go to college.
Last year we developed a pilot program to provide training and access to the ACT testing. College Admissions Directors advised us that this test was recommended for students of color as well as those with learning disabilities. Since this test wasn’t available at MVRHS, we made arrangements directly with the ACT offices to have MVYLI youth take the test at Falmouth High School. We received materials/workbooks etc. and conducted workshops to prepare students. MVYLI youth had great results – their test scores improved by 200-400 points. While we had hoped MVRHS might adopt this pilot program, it’s not possible at this time. As a result, we’ve requested and received special arrangements to become a non-school testing site. We will offer ACT to all Vineyard youth.
Some Vineyard parents aren’t able to take their children off-island to visit colleges. As a result, Vineyard youth too often have a higher-than-average rate of dropping out of college in their freshman year. MVYLI has taken students to 13 different Massachusetts’ colleges. We arrange for tours as well meetings professors and college advisors who can then assist them with their decision-making and application process. We have also conducted video interviews with colleges across the country so that MVYLI youth are able to explore their college options nationally. We also hosted a workshop with the Howard University’s Director of Admissions. This year MVYLI College Field Trips will include 4 colleges in Massachusetts, 4 in Washington D.C. and 4 videoconference interviews.
MVYLI is a year-round program that begins with the annual Youth Leadership Summit each June. During this weeklong program youth envision their lives, their island and the world. MVYLI then provides them with leadership development opportunities starting with the College Prep & Field Trip Program. We conduct workshops and individual sessions with each youth to explore their career goals and college options. We meet with each of their guidance counselors to develop an action plan for the year. We help prepare comprehensive portfolios that include photos of their MVYLI projects, letters of recommendation and press we’ve received. We also assist them with their scholarship application process by making copies of their portfolio to include with their applications Some of our students are the first in the family to go to college. As a result, we meet with parents to clarify MVYLI’s program goals — and encourage them to attend Senior Parents Night and support them with the FAFSA application process. MVYLI youth produced a video on their experiences visiting colleges, to inspire other young people to follow in their footsteps and visit colleges in the fall, vs. waiting until the spring semester.
MVYLI’s College Prep & Field Trip Program video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX6mMOoh0Rc
Addressing the Need
Martha’s Vineyard youth have a higher than average drop out rate as college freshmen. They face various challenges – from adapting to off-island life to balancing studies and social activities. Some are from single parent families or the first in their family to attend college. Some don’t have the opportunity to visit colleges before they attend. They may study hard, get good grades, apply to college, get accepted, get financial aid and then travel there, sight unseen. MVYLI’s College Prep and Field Trip Program helps increase their chances, so they are more likely to stay in college, graduate and go forward towards their career goals. They are clearer about their goals and feel more prepared to visit colleges. “I realized that I should really get started on my college applications and financial aid as soon as possible,” says Kayla Johnson. “This got me really excited and motivated since it’s all a reality now!”
How is your organization positioned to meet this issue or need?
MVYLI has a unique team of staff, Advisory Council members and volunteers who are very committed to supporting our Vineyard youth. We will train them to serve as ACT proctors and conduct workshops to prepare students to improve their test scores. In the past, MVYLI’s College Field Trips included visits to: Babson College, Brandeis University, Gordon College, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Suffolk University, Salem State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Boston and Dartmouth, and Wheelock College. We have also organized videoconference interviews with colleges outside of Massachusetts including Tuskegee University, Alabama and Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Atlanta University. We also hosted Howard University’s Admissions Counselor for a tailored workshop.
What will be the indicators of the project/program’s success?
• Expanded access to alternative college testing to enable more students to qualify for four-year colleges.
• Increased number of youth increasing their test scores for their college applications and scholarships.
• Increased number of youth applying for and getting accepted by four year colleges of their choice.
• Increased number of youth completing first year of college, continuing into their sophomore years etc.
• Produce inspirational video featuring MVYLI youth sharing their experience with College Prep Program.
• Positive press about Vineyard youth in their portfolios that results in visibility to scholarship opportunities.
Positive Feedback from the Martha’s Vineyard Community
It was indeed a pleasure to talk with you about the wonderful work done by you and the young people of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative. As Superintendent, I was impressed by the presentation made by Amoy Anderson at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Committee meeting last year. Amoy was so poised and passionate about your work and what it had helped her accomplish. Please know that the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools welcomes an ongoing relationship with the Initiative and hopes that its work will continue in years to come. I look forward to meeting with other students from your group and learning how we can collaborate in the future. James H. Weiss, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools
MVYLI has been working in conjunction with the MVRHS high school guidance program to help students during their post secondary planning process. Students have been afforded opportunities to visit college campuses, meet with college officials and explore college options. The students involved in this program have found these trips to be useful and motivational. It has helped them crystallize their plans they have been working on with their guidance counselors. The adult leaders have been open to all levels of students and have tried to provide experiences in line with the student’s achievements and interests. This time of a student’s life is very stressful and time consuming. Having added support from MVYLI is beneficial to the students at MVRHS. Michael McCarthy, Director of Guidance, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School
It is a pleasure to work with you again with the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative’s College Prep and Field Trip Program. When I participated in the Institute’s first training on Martha’s Vineyard in 1999, I could see the passion you had for what you were doing. Your enthusiasm for helping students has not waivered a bit. You work tirelessly for all of the programs that you have given your life to promote. MVYLI is near and dear to my heart. It gives students that thought that college was for them, not just someone else. You have shown them that they too can have a higher education. So many of the students just need that little extra push to open their eyes and have the light come on in their head that they, too, can go to college. That is what you are doing. I’ve been impressed to see how you have made the students and their families invested wholeheartedly in their careers, their future and the future of our island. There is a lot of work to do. I am excited about helping you achieve the goals of these Martha’s Vineyard youth. Doris Clark, MVYLI Advisory Council
Bella’s Job Shadow Day with Rose Styron, chairwoman of Amnesty International, was truly inspiring. She coached her on colleges, interning and other steps to enter the world of foreign affairs and diplomacy. MVYLI has helped expose and prepare Bella for the big world. She has met leaders and learned that she CAN make a difference. From college trips early in her junior year, SAT coaching and weekly workshops, I am grateful for all this exposure. It’s something I couldn’t have done without MVYLI. Rebeka El-Deiry, mother MVYLI youth Bella
MVYLI’s Job Shadow Day was the best day of my life! I got to talk to a whole section of Pricewaterhouse Coopers on a special project. When I asked a question, I got a 30-minute answer instead of a quick yes or no. I am so sure now, that I want to be in the financial world. MVYLI has given me great insight into my future. Jacob Lawrence
I’d like to thank you for the generous scholarship which will be instrumental in helping me continue my education as I attend the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. This scholarship will definitely help, allowing me to breathe easier as I finish my education and prepare for my chosen career. I will be majoring in English at UMass Amherst and plan to eventually transfer to the University of Southern California to pursue an additional degree in film editing. I would also like to thank you and MVYLI for the continued support and guidance you have provided me over the years beginning with the internship you got me involved with MVYLI to the honor of being a recipient of the Walter Cronkite Award. I have not only learned through this experience but have also met amazing people and made good friends. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank you enough for all you’ve done for me. I know this scholarship will help me achieve all my goals for my life, my island and my world. Chris Pitt, Class 2012
I want to thank you for everything you have done for me. If I hadn’t met you I would not be able to accomplish all the things I have accomplished in the past year. Marianne you are an amazing human being and I enjoyed every second of our time spent doing better in and out of my community. I remember the first time I met you and I had plans of all the things I wanted to do and I had no idea how I would accomplish those dreams. But with your help and motivation I know I am able to do amazing things in my lifetime. Thanks for creating the MVYLI Youth Leadership Summit. Thanks for the college field trips and the scholarship workshops. You put your all to make these events happen. Thank you and God bless you for the great things you have done and will continue to do. With love and gratitude from Amoy (Anderson), Class 2011
I want to thank you for everything you have done for me! The scholarships, the opportunities, the friendship…the list just goes on and on! It has honestly been a blessing experience with you. I honestly can’t thank you enough. I just want you to know how much you have changed my life! I will never forget you or what you have done for me!
From Courtney (Minnehan), Class 2011
I want to thank you so much for everything you have done for me. Going on college field trips and scholarship workshops have helped me so much in choosing where I want to go to college and which career path to choose. Even though there has been a few obstacles along the way, I realized my goal of attending a four-year college. Your scholarship has been such a great help to put towards my college funds. I really appreciate it. You are truly a great and amazing person!
Yours Thankfully, Shawna Brown, Class 2011