Students from nine school districts from around the region gathered at the CFO’s Springfield offices on Feb. 27 for the Youth Empowerment Project’s annual Winter Recharge mini-conference. The get-together is intended for YEP chapter sponsors and student leaders to meet, share ideas, and create momentum for the final few months of the school year — which as all educators, students and parents know, can be extremely busy.
This year, students attended from: Aurora, Clinton, Fair Grove, Joplin, Monett, Ozark, Purdy, Seymour, and St. James. Much of the two-hour conference was spent sharing the chapters’ best ideas for community service projects, fundraisers and grantmaking policies.For example, the St. James chapter is looking for a way to engage summer school students in community service, either through the community garden or helping the local library. Aurora’s chapter shared how they recently applied for and received a grant from a local business, which was used to support four local agencies including the school’s Dawggie Backpack program, a food take-home service for at-risk young children.
YEP coordinator Bridget Dierks also brought the students up to speed on Ozarks Photovoice, a civic-engagement project recently completed by the Springfield chapter, the scholarships currently available through the CFO website, and the upcoming deadline for the Coover Place-Based Education grant round. The final few minutes of the day were spent collaborating among schools, writing down the best ideas they came away with from the conference, and snapping up the last remaining slices of pizza.