be_ixf;ym_202405 d_27; ct_50 YES! I want to make a difference TODAY!

Impact and Eggs 2021

On November 8, 2021, City Year Milwaukee hosted our annual Impact and Eggs event. The following remarks were delivered by our Executive Director, Dr. Stephanie Maney-Hartlaub.

Dr. Stephanie Maney-Hartlaub - Headshot - City Year

Thank you Isioma, Kevin, Miles and Anthony. I am honored to be here with each of you this morning. I would like to begin by recognizing Dr. Keith Posley, MPS Superintendent, our elected officials and friends of City Year who are here today, we are grateful for your support. Thank you to our Alumni Board; our Associate Board and our Board of Directors for your commitment and advocacy for City Year Milwaukee. I would like to extend a special note of gratitude to Chris Didier and Kevin Joy our board chairs whose passion to improve outcomes for our scholars and young people continues to inspire me daily. Thank you to family and my personal board of directors who are here today. I am because You ARE. Finally, a huge thank you to the amazing City Year MKE AmeriCorps members and staff here today in service.

At City Year, we use our founding stories which are collective civic values that guide our work and serve as a constant source of influence, inspiration, and motivation. Each year the Executive Director is given the privilege of selecting a founding a story that will guide the work of site for the year. This year at City Year Milwaukee our work is being guided by the value Never Doubt. This value is rooted in the quote from Margaret Mead the famous anthropologist who shared

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

As I look around this room this morning, I am filled with hope and pride at the representation from all corners of this community here to be part of improving educational outcomes for scholars and I have No Doubt that together we will! I am thrilled to contribute to and lead the vision for City Year Milwaukee who I believe is a critical partner in ensuring that educational equity is realized in our city. While Never Doubt is the value guiding our work at City Year Milwaukee this year, I will have to say in all honesty that doubt has been a part of my educational journey.

According to all the data on paper, I was at risk, there was doubt about me. I was a student of color from a under-resourced community, here was doubt about me. I was being raised by a single mom, there was doubt about me. I was a discipline problem, there was doubt . . . and by third grade I couldn’t read, there was doubt about me.

This doubt began to be lifted when I had the privilege of joining Ms. Bell’s class at Sherman School of the Arts. Ms. Bell was awesome and the first Black teacher I had in my educational career. She was kind, she was consistent, she showed me, and my classmates love and care. She had no doubt that my possibilities were limitless and believed in me until I could believe in myself. When I think about why I serve it is because I am tired of seeing and hearing the doubts weighing on Black and Brown scholars in this city. I have a deep desire for all scholars to have the best opportunity to live the life they choose. I believe we have an obligation to ensure that all scholars are prepared for life with all the tools they need to be successful and that they feel empowered to show up as their whole selves. I have had far too few leaders and teachers in my educational career that looked like me.

To be a model and ensure greater representation, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and earned a Bachelor of Science in education. I then proudly served in MPS for 20 years as an educator and administrator. It is my hope that I was a part of erasing doubt for our young people. After earning my PhD from Cardinal Stritch University, I am honored to be in this new role, in service to my community and our scholars.

I recently read a statistic that it will take 228 years for Black and brown Americans to achieve educational and economic equity. That is WAY too long to wait for equity! As the Executive Director at City Year Milwaukee, I will not sit back and admire the problems. With City Year’s Framework for the Future, I believe we can help to accelerate bridging the opportunity gap, be a part of the solution to help our community thrive and remove all doubt about what we can achieve and be! I want to share how City Year has been a partner in this work. For 12 years, City Year Milwaukee has been a leader in harnessing the power of young people to help scholars in Milwaukee Public Schools succeed in and out of the classroom.

During the last year, over 120 City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps members (our largest corps to date) served alongside teachers in 13 Milwaukee public schools providing 370 scholars with small group interventions in English Arts and an additional 276 scholars received small group intervention in Mathematics! In total, the City Year Milwaukee team provided over 66,330 minutes of academic and social emotional learning intervention. MPS scholars who work with City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps members are closing the opportunity gap at rates faster than peers. In alignment with our national research, MPS scholars who work with CYMKE are moving towards being “on-target” in reading and math at a rate two-three times faster than their peers. The uniqueness of City Year’s model has proven successful outcomes for the scholars who participate and yet we know that there is much more work to be done. To achieve our full potential, we will need to continue to adapt and change, evolving, deepening, and enhancing our impact for our scholars, schools, families, corps, alumni, and systems providing the supports and learning environments so that all scholars can reach for their aspirations and thrive. This is what means when I say driving educational equity. Our City Year Framework for the Future calls for us to take an impact first approach by looking more deeply at systems and strategic focus on quality vs. quantity to achieve greater educational equity.

To succeed, we must simultaneously focus on and balance impacting and supporting scholars and schools and our AmeriCorps members. We must not make false choices in choosing one over the other, but instead recognize their symbiotic relationship: recruiting, training, developing, and supporting our corps to build relationships and help create positive conditions in schools enables the extraordinary potential of our scholars to shine through. In order to emphasize this dual focus on supporting scholars and developing our corps as leaders, we need to further bolster our impact on our corps and alumni to become social change leaders working across lines of difference for the common good. So, what does this mean?

For us, it is continuing our Whole School Whole Child model while creating common standards for service and impact and being responsive and flexible to adapt to local schools needs and opportunity for innovation. For Alumni programming we will continue to be a “brain gain for Milwaukee”. 2/3 of City Year AmeriCorps Alumni remain in Milwaukee after service. As part of Framework for the Future we will be working to ensure that all of AmeriCorps members have access to the training, support, and resources to effectively fulfill their responsibilities and build their toolboxes for their life after City Year. We believe that if we can build the systems to light the pathway for career or college for our AmeriCorps members following service that we will part of building a robust middle class in Milwaukee. When we all have the tools, we need to succeed, we all thrive. Let’s evolve the work we’re already doing – it’s going to help with accelerating the bridge to equity. When we focus on advancing educational equity and preparing diverse change agents working across the lines of difference, we create a better world for our future.

This pandemic has highlighted the great many inequities that plague our educational system. I remember these same issues being highlighted in the documentary “Waiting on Superman”. Our Milwaukee scholars don’t need us to be their heroes. They need us to recognize the problem is complex and yet the steps are simple. It starts with supporting our scholars in the classroom and ensuring that their social and emotional needs are met, it starts with partnering with teachers to ensure they are becoming the very best at their craft, it starts with leaders at all levels of the systems removing the barriers of change, its starts with neighbors committing to their school, and it starts with you willing to act!

Consider supporting the work of City Year Milwaukee today.

See more photos from the event.

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