(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.
Join the Center for Military Families for a panel on Politics in the Service of Military Families, featuring Cedric Leighton, David Splitter, Steve Huerta, and the Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
UTSA Dance classes will take the stage and share their talents and passion for dance! Come support our growing dance program! $10 admission
Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
This panel presentation will look at the history of the YWCA and the impact the organization has had on women in the San Antonio community.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 2.02.10), Main Campus
The Demography Lecture Series continues with Dr. Barbara Bird of American University. Her topic focuses on Insights Into a Hard to Find Population: Latino Entrepreneurs in Metro Washington, D.C. Event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the pay stall spaces of the Monterrey surface lot.
Monterrey Building (MNT 3.240), Downtown Campus
This video tells the story of four Latina lesbians who fought for exoneration after being wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two girls during the Satanic Panic witch-hunt era of the 1980s and 1990s.
H-E-B University Center, Bexar Room (HUC 1.102), Main Campus
Tejana/Indígena author Ire'ne Lara Ailva will read from her latest work and discuss her approach to reimagining Tejan@ myths.
Main Building (MB 2.404), Main Campus
Muralist Crystal Arias will discuss her current mural "Cultivate the Past to Prestige" at La India Herbs and themes she utilizes in her other works.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 3.02.26), Main Campus
The UTSA Department of Modern Languages and Literatures is a co-sponsor of the CARTA 19th Annual Conference. The group meets annually to exchange educational programs, ideas, and techniques and to network with other teachers of Russian. Registration required.
DoubleTree by Hilton, Downtown San Antonio
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