The room filled with dialogue as the small group of executive board members of Project E.D.U. sat in a circle on Oct. 17, to discuss some of the current problems occurring in the student-operated organization.
“We can all agree that one of the major problems with the organization is that we have too much on our agenda,” Project E.D.U. President Nicole Kibblehouse said. “We are juggling too many programs at once.”
Nodding in approval, the group began to discuss ways to reshape the organization.
Project E.D.U. is a young student organization founded by Alex McNeil, a 2009 social work alumnus. Project E.D.U. is a service organization aimed at building strong communities in the surrounding area through education-based programs. Project E.D.U. represents the “education for the development of unity.” The mission of the organization is to establish relationships between Temple students and the community.
Executive board member Tim Wiackowski, an education major and Philadelphia native, said giving back to the community is an important part of the program’s make-up.
“We are guests here [in North Philadelphia] and we want to be good guests in this community that has been hosting us for the four to five years it takes for us to get our education,” Wiackowski said.
In helping the community, Project E.D.U. aims at providing academic coaching for local middle and high school students, working with Philly Eco Kids to provide a greener future, advancing art education in the community, collecting books for operation bookshelf, providing an adult literacy service and prepping students for a college career through Avid.
In exploring ways to better focus Project E.D.U.’s main agenda in helping the community, Kibblehouse said the organization should focus its efforts on two to three programs a semester until it expands more.
Being a fairly new organization, Project E.D.U. is still developing and creating a name on Main Campus and in the North Philadelphia area. Since they are still building a name for themselves, the organization does not have as many hands to help out in their community service efforts as they would like. Therefore many of its programs get neglected.
Although the organization is still working out some kinks, Project E.D.U. members are involved in a few community service programs. One of the major programs Project E.D.U. members participate in is the Diamond College Access Program, organized through Temple’s Community Learning Network.
The program sends Project E.D.U. members into a local high school to tutor and assist students with homework. Benjamin Franklin High School is one of the Philadelphia high schools Project E.D.U. works with.
Another active program Project E.D.U. members participate in is the adult literacy program. Walter Smolarek, the adult literacy coordinator for Project E.D.U., said the organization is heavily involved in helping adult literacy through the Temple University Pan-African Studies Community Education Program, which helps adults obtain their GED and show them ways to polish their résumés.
“[Working with] the program not only makes the students’ résumés look better, but it gives them a sense of purpose being that they are able to help someone in need,” Smolarek said. “Education is our right, [and] with education becoming more and more expensive, it becomes unattainable for people surrounding the Temple area. So we bring education to the community.”
Not only is Project E.D.U. involved in helping the community outside of Temple, the organization also helps Temple’s student body by providing workshops. The workshops are dialogues that provide tips for student tutors serving high school students, middle school students and adults.
Wiackowski said the workshops are very helpful because they translate what they learn in class into real-life experiences.
“Working with Project E.D.U has been very eye-opening for me,” Kibblehouse said. “You get taught how to teach people in class, but what if someone doesn’t understand big words, so this program shows you methods for teaching people that have a hard time learning.”
Desirae Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.