Academic journal article Human Ecology

Iscol Program Marks 10 Years of Inspiring Students to Serve

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Iscol Program Marks 10 Years of Inspiring Students to Serve

Article excerpt

Since she graduated from Cornell, Chakira Branch '08 has dedicated herself to serving inner-city youth as a volunteer in her hometown of New York City.

In 2009, she was sworn, in by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one of 193 inaugural members of New York City Civic Corps, a program to support local nonprofits and to grow the city's volunteer ranks. Branch spent a year recruiting volunteers for the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program run by Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. She later aided in the development of Bigs United and High Impact Alliance, two new organizations committed to mentoring young people.

For Branch, her drive to serve youth started in 2007 at Cornell, when she interned with The Renaissance University for Community Education (TRUCE), an after-school program in Harlem. The experience "opened my eyes to many of the unfair disadvantages that youth have in urban communities," said Branch, who grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Ever since, she has been drawn to "teach youth the values of education, activism, and commitment to their community."

Branch's triumphs as a community leader are the sort oi success story Jill and Ken Iscol hoped for when they funded the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service in 2001. (Ken Iscol is a 1960 graduate of Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.) Based in the College of Human Ecology, the program seeks to inspire and educate Cornell students to become leaders in civic engagement through internships and annual campus visits by luminaries in public service. The Iscol Summer Internships in Public Service were initiated in 2007; to date, Branch and 45 other Cornell students have worked with community groups in underserved areas. …

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