(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.
The UTSA community is invited to the Community Networking events hosted by the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion during Roadrunner Days. Various opportunities will be available that will focus on our diverse population.
H-E-B University Center Ballrooms (HUC 1.104 and HUC 1.106), Main Campus
Start in the Paseo then branch out around campus so you know where to go on the first day of classes.
University Center Paseo, Main Campus
This event offers a preview of the UC’s programs and services that students can enjoy throughout the year. There will be food and giveaways too.
University Center Paseo, Main Campus
There will be a special UCinema showing following Kickback at the UC at 9pm in Retama Auditorium (located on the 2nd floor of UC North).
University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
The Honors College welcomes all new freshmen to UTSA. Join them for breakfast and meet Honors College administrators, staff, and connect with other new Honors students.
University Center, Denman Room (UC 2.01.28), Main Campus
Convocation is UTSA’s ceremony to launch the new academic year. Attendance is mandatory for all incoming freshmen because it marks the first step students will take in their higher education journey of discovery. It is also highly recommended for transfer students as they continue their higher education journey at UTSA and become members of the Roadrunner Family.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
Visit your College to explore your major before the first day of classes.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Successful first-year students at UTSA are those who learn how to utilize resources, recognize and resolve problems, and prepare themselves to take advantage of their time on campus. The Student Success Series promotes this achievement by offering workshops on the common concerns and questions first-year students have during their transition to university life.
University Center Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
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