(April 24, 2013) -- Service projects conducted by Lowell Middle School and Rhodes Middle School under the mentorship of UTSA students Fedra Chapa and Tessa Benavides, respectively, recently were named Silver & Black Give Back Team Up Challenge Champions. The two initiatives will receive an additional $20,000 from the Silver & Black Give Back foundation to continue their community service.
Last fall, Chapa and Benavides, who are students in the Master of Public Administration Degree program in the UTSA College of Public Policy, were among five UTSA students named Spurs Team Up Challenge Scholars. The Team Up Challenge outreach program matches Texas college students with K-12 schools pursuing community service projects in arts and culture, education, the environment, health and wellness, or uniformed services. Each project received $2,500 of seed funding to begin their projects.
Since October, Chapa has mentored students in the science club at Lowell Middle School pursuing beautification and healthy living projects. Chapa and the science club worked to create a green space for the Lowell Middle School community using logs, seeds and plants bought with the seed funding from Silver & Black Give Back.
In March, the students completed their first major vegetable giveaway for their healthy living initiative. They distributed 20 large bags of fresh produce from their garden to families in their school's immediate neighborhood. The club recently started a community compost bin outside the school grounds and invited the community to contribute compostable materials.
"I was so excited to know we won, and I knew the kids were excited, too," said Chapa. "They worked so hard. They could have been doing many other things, but they chose to do this project with their after-school time for the good of all their community."
Chapa said the middle school students have already begun drafting plans for the additional funding. They are considering the creation of a pathway through their garden lined with different fruit trees and vegetables, the building of a greenhouse and the cultivation of a butterfly garden near the school's community garden.
Benavides and the Rhodes Middle School National Junior Honors Society (NJHS) partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio and Carvajal Early Childhood Center to establish a reading and mentorship program. Since last October, the eighth graders at Rhodes have traveled to Carvajal to read and mentor identified at-risk children every Friday.
Benavides helped acquire sponsors including H-E-B, which donated several books to the program, and helped plan the educational logistics. The books read by the NJHS students are designed to complement educational strategies crafted by the program and the Carvajal teachers. Additionally, the NJHS hosted book fairs for the children at Carvajal and at their own middle school.
"I really give this program and this group of kids a lot of credit," said Benavides. "I've seen the reading program flourish because they had a really solid foundation to build upon. I think it's wonderful that Silver & Black Give Back and the Team Up Initiative saw the effort these kids are making. They're recognizing a program that has footholds to make a significant impact on all the kids involved."
The NHJS at Rhodes will continue the program through 2013-2014. They will expand the scope of their efforts with the additional funding they received by creating a summer reading program at the Boys & Girls Club.
Langston Clark, UTSA assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition will discuss exploring the historical context for the role of black athletes in contemporary social movements.
John Peace Library, Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
The UTSA African American Studies program invites speakers from the leading African American Fraternities and Sororities for a panel discussion of the history of each organization and to enlighten the audience about the community service, academic purpose, professionalism and ethical roots of each group.
Student Union, Mesquite Room (SU 2.01.24), Main Campus
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.
Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries hosts Assistant Professor Ian Caine for his lecture, Architectural Postcards from Space, as part of the popular Pizza + Research series. Pizza will be served while supplies last.
Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.304), Downtown Campus
The theme of this year’s symposium is Black & Brown Futures. The free event will give UTSA students and the community the opportunity to meet and hear national scholars talk about current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of African Americans in the United States.
Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
Registration is open now for this family-friendly and dog-friendly run that supports the UTSA Alumni Association scholarship fund.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
Join the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the 14th Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival featuring Nancy Simpson, storyteller and keynote speaker. The event is free and open to the public.
Main Building, Ground Floor Lobby, Main Campus
Students are invited to a semi-formal, dinner banquet with an awards presentation and dancing. Keynote speaker will be San Antonio City Councilman William Cruz Shaw. Tickets must be purchased by Feb 19 at Roadrunner Express. UTSA students are $15 and guests are $20.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1/106), Main Campus
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