The Community Change Model is a process for engaging people in identifying, analyzing and addressing social issues in their neighborhood. Over the years, the Community Change Model has been used with pre-kindergarten through graduate level students to help make their community a better place to live. This is done through the dynamic integration of questions, fun exercises and references. The goals of Community Change are: to develop students into effective leaders of their community.
A two-time winner of The After-School Corporation’s (TASC) Promising Practice Award, Community Change is a unique way of involving youth and adults in their community. In addition to researching various aspects of the issue, students also recruit and involve community members in the planning and implementation of action projects that address their selected issue. This helps to build and strengthen students’ relationship with individuals and organizations in their community. Community Change also incorporates spelling and career explorations related to the social issue selected by the students. This is all done through the use of dynamic exercises. Community Change allows people to become actively involved in addressing their neighborhood concerns. Through Community Change, participants engage in a process of assessing, analyzing, and addressing the issues in their community that concerns them the most. Participants apply what they learn to contribute to the growth and development of their community. From this experience, people learn how to conduct research and work as a team, while developing valuable leadership and critical thinking skills.
In practice, Community Change is applied to a single issue identified and selected by the students. Past Community Change Projects have focused on such issues as kidnapping, teenage pregnancy, suicide and violence. The process of analyzing and addressing the selected issue extends over a structured time period, which is divided into the following six phases: 1. Self-Examination. 2. Statement of the Selected Issue. 3. Causes of the Issue. 4. Effects of the Issue. 5. Supports, Solutions & Suggestions for the Issue. 6. Action Projects to Address the Issue. Over the course of the year, students use the arts, games and other activities of interest to focus on their foremost community concern.
A defining aspect of the Community Change Model is that students must engage other members of their community in the planning and implementation of their action projects. It’s not enough for them to do it themselves; the change occurs through the involvement of their family, friends and neighbors. Some Community Change action projects have included:
- A garden on the school’s lawn created by a team of kindergarteners and 3rd graders
- A 1st grade group created an anti-drug comic book for other 1st graders and their parents
- A 2nd grade group led a food drive for a local shelter
- A 4th grade group organized an anti-drug demonstration in front of their school
- A group of middle-school students coordinated school safety officers to visit day school classes to talk about the
consequences of juvenile delinquency
- A high school group created an anti-child abuse video and presented it in the school lobby in the morning.
- Another high school group created anti-drug and alcohol fliers that looked like dollar bills with the message “Don’t waste your money on drugs”. The back of the flier had statistics about poverty and the cost of drug use.
- Groups of college students separately organized health and career fairs in tandem with members of their community.
Community Change can be used to develop a community-service/service-learning component to different types of programs (i.e.
Financial Literacy; The Arts; Recreation; Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). A program focusing on financial literacy would apply Community Change to a social issue related to finance (e.g. poverty, unemployment); whereas a program focusing on technology would apply the model to a social issue such a cyber-bullying or on-line identity theft. After researching their selected issue, students would recruit and involve community members in designing and implementing action projects that address the causes and/or effects of the issue.
There are three types of special events connected to the Community Change Model that students may participate in as part of their community organizing efforts:
- The Community Change Convention: this is the culminating event for all sites. Done at a central location, this event allows students to deliver workshops to an audience of their peers about the findings of their Community Change projects as a
summary of their work in the CareerVisions Institute (once per semester).
- The Day of Action: annual student-led march. This action supports two goals: 1. to increase public awareness of their Community Change topic; and 2. to encourage the public to get involved in making their community a better place to live (once per year).