The show must go on

From meetings to video shoots and another JazZoo, I had quite an adventurous week again. On Tuesday I was able to meet with my friend Kate who is the communications and marketing director for Gateway – Steinert. We sat down and she explained to me the fundamentals of a social media campaign from insights about your audience and what they need to a strategy for when, where and how to share information, and then a creative execution about what you are going to say and how you will say it. I learned about using keywords that attract your audience and that you should only be posting once a day on social media. I learned that boosting a post is the best investment when the post performs well organically. I also learned about how to make a month-long plan and implement it into your branding strategy. Overall, I learned a lot and then was able to share all of my insights with other fellows and at lunch yesterday with Anna for her time at Cristo Rey.

On Wednesday last week we had another learning session about Fundraising 101. It was truly a learning experience about how fundraising is centered around relationship building, and common missions, visions and values. Mollard Consulting was very insightful about Columbus non-profits and I was thankful for the session.

Friday was a long day. It began in the morning with folding 900 JazZoo programs and answering emails. Then I packed up a truck with musical equipment in the rain and sauntered over downtown to the Columbus Dispatch news room. There we unloaded the truck in the pouring rain to prepare for Abhik Mazumder’s airing for Windows on the World. For a half-hour Abhik, a 14 year-old piano player, played 5 songs and was interviewed about his performance that evening with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. His music was projected on speakers through Broad St. and live streamed on facebook. It was great to help him and prepare for a piano extravaganza that evening.

Later that evening at JazZoo we were crossing our fingers that there would be no rain throughout the evening. We were lucky to have had great weather, a concert with 4 dueling pianists, scrumptious food trucks and a full crowd. Not only was it a successful evening, but another great week in the books for the summer fellowship.

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College never ends.

The last weeks of my fellowship at Cristo Rey High School have arrived and it feels strangely reminiscent of my days as a student entering finals week. The circumstances are similar: a 10-week project culminating as a final presentation and report, an approaching deadline that re-energizes my work ethic, and nerves steadily increasing  that I know will only subside after the final day arrives.

This week is spent going through all of my research and data, comparing my notes to my final draft and editing like crazyyyyy. Is everything correct? Did I cite this source properly? Was that the exact word used during the interview? Fact checking was important in undergrad–absolutely–but when a formal document is presented to an organization with the title of “recommendations,” I feel even more pressure to get everything exactly right.

I’ve also been surprised at the amount of follow-ups I’m doing this week. I thought I was finished with my interviews and data collections, but as I review I am finding the most interesting nuggets of information that I missed the first time around. They are resurfacing with brand new meaning after more context has been created throughout the weeks.This has probably been my favorite part– not only does it give me the opportunity to reconnect with those I interviewed weeks ago, but it allows me the chance to show them that I’ve used their input and done some critical thinking and analysis to truly and accurately use their information. It’s another chance for engagement within the network and let them know that I appreciate their help. Further, it reminds them of the project and  occasionally leads to new insights that they missed during the first call. It’s fascinating to see my work as a living document, constantly changing with new opinions and information. I believe it truly reflects the personality of the Cristo Rey Network and also the diversity of the schools–not only does each school bring an new tone and perspective, but they prioritize certain responsibilities within their development departments and it’s reflected in the advice they provide for new development directors.

So, wish me luck on my Finals Week 2.0: Real World Edition. I’m excited! and nervous. But as it goes with each end of a semester, it all ends up well so long as you put forth the proper time, your best work and your best effort. However, this time around I am putting forth immense care and investment in a project to serve a cause bigger than an “A” in statistics. I am helping CRCHS approach this year with a plan to celebrate & serve Columbus youth to the best of their ability. And that is a research project I can very well be proud of.

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Concerts and carnivals

As other fellows have mentioned our excursion this week to the Columbus Commons was a fun opportunity to bond, decompress from the work week, enjoy live music and eat adorable mini sandwiches. At one point some of us talked about what has set our fellowship experience apart from other internships we’ve had in the past. As things start to wrap up at a rapid pace I’ve been reflecting on that further. What I have appreciated most about the fellowship is that the agencies we have been placed with had to think carefully and thoughtfully about the project they want executed in 10 weeks. It’s not a situation where an intern is plugged into duties and roles that other interns have executed in the past. One of the many things I have appreciated about Concord is that they defined their project as piloting programming for youth at Southpoint, but have been completely open to whatever direction I take.

During my final week myself and the other youth staff will be putting on a Back to School Carnival for the school-agers at Southpoint. The plan is to give away school supplies as prizes for carnival games, and we have been working hard to seek out donations. Early on we decided to see if Concord would be willing to do an internal donation drive for school supplies. I felt a little unsure about asking staff to support the carnival out of their own pockets, but my supervisor encouraged the idea and said he had no doubt it would be supported. Fast forward to today, and I am so impressed and touched with how Concord’s staff has embraced the donation drive. The staff’s social committee adopted the donation drive as a project, and I have had multiple staff reach out to me to ask me what the most needed items are. To me this speaks volumes about the positive culture at Concord, and the staff’s willingness to go beyond their job duties to help impact the lives of the community they serve.

In our final learning session this week Kerri Mollard and Adrienne Selsor of Kerri Mollard Consulting, LLC, spoke with us about their philosophy and approach to fundraising. I learned that effective fundraising requires an understanding that relationships and engagement are important, as philanthropy is ultimately a voluntary endeavor that should be met with gratitude. As I have been soliciting donations and relying on external and internal support for the carnival, these frames have been very beneficial.

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Moving Forward with Strategy

On Wednesday of this week, the nine fellows met for our final learning session. Although we were sad because these learning sessions are both fun and incredibly educational, it was exciting to hear how far everyone has come, what we have to look forward to in our final two weeks and very heartwarming to witness how our group has formed a tight-knit bond.

Kerri Mollard and Adrienne Selsor of Kerri Mollard Consulting, LLC spoke to our group about fundraising. They covered so much and truly taught us the importance of relationships and data-driven progression. For me, it was humbling to sit across the table from these professionals because The Center for Balanced Living has benefited immensely from Kerri’s expertise. She helped The Center raise the funds to move into the beautiful space where I am sitting this very moment. As much as I enjoy it, the new building is so much more functional to meet the needs of the clients and the growing number of programs that are being implemented. Thanks, Kerri!

As I am reaching the end of my communications courses at Otterbein, the importance of measurable outcomes is emphasized more and more. Not only does this keep me accountable for my actions towards the goal but it provides so much insight to discover strengths and weaknesses for the project at hand.

Last week, I blogged about my dietitian database which is still ongoing but no longer my primary focus. This week, I have been shifting towards evaluating my work at The Center in regards to social media. In a very detailed Excel sheet, I have each social media post I have ever published broken down into categories. Thankfully technology in all its beauty provides a basic analytic report but for the first time, I have been going further. What do our clients want to see? What about professionals, families and the general public? Those are questions that I can now begin to answer without an assumption. These are answers that carry over into my strategy for moving forward.

I am so thankful that I was given this task and further motivated to dive into the data from Kerri and Adrienne. A second thank you to everyone who has previously sat down with us, those who have granted us a place to sit and everyone at The Columbus Foundation who have taken time out of their work days to pour out their wisdom and believe in each of us. I may feel small accomplishments here and there but you are the ones who are making it possible!

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Music and a Meal

Since I am nearing the end of the my fellowship, I decided to look through the packet of information I received on my first day. It’s a bit sad to see that this journey is almost over, but I enjoy looking back at all I have already achieved through my fellowship.

This summer, as can be seen from my other blog posts, I have been busy doing History to Go and doing other projects at the Ohio History Connection. I’ve also had a chance to go to some really great events through The Columbus Foundation. Last week, I went to JazZoo through The Columbus Foundation. One of our other fellows, Victoria Alesi, has been working at the Jazz Arts Group. So, she assisted with JazZoo. It’s always nice to be able to support others in their work and see the fruits of their labors.

Dan Sharpe, our awesome coordinator from the Columbus Foundation, arranged for us to meet up at the Columbus Commons for a free concert yesterday. I had a great time hanging out with some of the other fellows and other young professionals in Columbus. I even met some law students from Capital and some members of the Columbus Bar Association. Since, I am going to law school in the fall, it was really exciting to hear about their experience. Plus, at the Commons, Conspiracy was playing and there were lots of puppies everywhere.

Both JazZoo and the event at the Columbus Commons were fantastic! I would highly recommend going to these events. Columbus is a great city. People should try to take advantage of all that it offers. Of course, that also includes food…

I have to share my new favorite spot–The Angry Baker. I had heard about it before, but I never made my way there. Now that I’ve had a chance to try their Fork and Knife Burrito that was made vegan, I’m hooked.

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I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend and gets to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities things around them! I know I am looking forward to this weekend and to the networking event with former summer fellows next week.

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The Elusive Inclusive

Would you rather choose to be tolerated or wholly accepted for who you are?

This was what I asked myself after Monday’s visit to LifeTown, a nonprofit organization designed as a realistic “city” where children with special needs receive the opportunity to practice important life skills through role play, such as making and keeping appointments, visiting the library, banking, shopping, and even applying for jobs (LifeTownColumbus.org).

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To me, inclusiveness is the epicenter of peace and harmony. When people feel included, they feel appreciated, honored, and as though their humanity has been recognized.  For the children at LifeTown, this sense of belonging develops as the students, frequently devoid of independence due to their disabilities, are able to participate alongside modern day society in a variety of tasks, ultimately granting them a sense of inclusion as a result.

Looking around the facility, I could easily envision how a visit to LifeTown would be a transformative experience for a student. I think for many of us- myself included- it is easy to go into autopilot, to forget to appreciate our ability to do the littlest things, like going to the grocery store or picking out a movie. By contrast, the kids at LifeTown are excited to wait in line at the bank or visit the dentist because it means participating alongside everyday society.

This ability to have gratitude for all of life’s blessings is what ultimately guides the level of satisfaction one has for life! For me, my visit to LifeTown served as a nice reminder of the importance of inclusion and the huge impact an individual can have when others provide them with an opportunity to belong. Throughout the week, I couldn’t help but consider my own fit within OANO and the broader nonprofit sector at large. I have been so fortunate to have found an organization where I am always included and as a seasoned summer intern, I know this does not necessarily have to be the case.

However, at OANO and the Columbus Foundation, I have felt like I’ve belonged since day one, which has made for the most impactful and inspiring work experience of my life. As the summer comes to a close, I encourage all of us to continue aspiring towards a society that practices inclusion and acceptance for all, regardless of age, race, or disability. When we exceed tolerance and practice wholehearted acceptance instead, we can move mountains.

Have a great weekend!

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Data Days & Columbus Nights

I have MY VERY OWN DESK. So, why is this news? It’s been 8 weeks and I’m excited to have a desk, rather than a roundtable, for…the remaining 2 weeks? Well, do I have an amazing update for you. KIPP offered me a part-time position in the fall, and I’ve decided to accept! This summer has been filled with invaluable experiences, and I feel like I still have a lot more to learn here. Apparently, things move very quickly while school’s in session, and I can’t wait to be at KIPP during its prime time. There’s even more data work necessary during the year–plus all of the KIPPsters will be back to bring their energy to the building.

I got to try my hand at a few different data tasks this week, including a project to determine if two particular tests given at KIPP (one a local test, the other a state test) have correlated scores. Using some statistics and Excel formulas, I came up with baseline scores that KIPP’s teachers should have as goals for their students on the local tests in order to be proficient on the state tests. A large portion of Ohio schools’ grades on the state report card comes from students’ scores on these state tests. KIPP is working hard to create specific, reasonable goals for its students to provide them with successful and attainable outcomes.

Outside of my Data Days, I’ve had some cool Columbus nights the past week with the other Fellows. Last Friday, Victoria’s “Jazzoo” project (see her blog posts and the photo below) went off without a hitch, and a few of us Fellows came out to support her and enjoy the show. It was a beautiful night at the Columbus Zoo filled with wonderful jazz music, and we had a great time. Then this week, the Foundation reserved a tent and tables for us at a Columbus Commons concert, where we got to enjoy food, friends, and fun local bands. It really is so nice to relax with people who know how exhausting it is to work full-time; plus, we’ve become an awesome cohort. The summer’s feeling far too short!

Jazzoo

 

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