Several years ago, Scholastic teamed up with the Yale Child Study Center to answer the question, “How can we help build resilience in struggling communities?” In particular, Scholastic was interested in exploring how literacy might be used to increase a community’s ability to adapt to stressful circumstances in positive ways. The partnership expanded into an innovative collaboration in rural Appalachia, with results beyond what the researchers predicted. Families participating in the program report personal and social growth along with an increased interest and pride in community and nature. Children and families have demonstrated increased social connectedness with each other and with community partners, and a correlated boost to self-confidence and curiosity.
The evolving program, Discover Together, is now a collaborative involving Sewanee: The University of the South, local community partners in Grundy County, Tenn., the Yale Child Study Center, and Scholastic. Discover Together encompasses a family co-op, a summer camp, and a school-year learning lab. The curriculum for all components is centered around a place-based pedagogy focused on literacy. The Discover Together approach targets the whole child, family and community simultaneously in a multi-generational approach.
This summer, 65 1st– 8th grade students attended Discover Together’s camp, and just this week 20 families arrived when the Family Coop opened its doors for the new season. Discover Together recently received a $260,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to deepen and expand its reach in Grundy County.
In March of 2016, we hope to be able to share our methodology and showcase what we learned through this unique iniatiative at SXSWedu in Austin, TX. To get on the agenda, we need votes! I hope you'll check out our proposal and give us a "thumbs up."