How did this project start?
We have been working with members of the Coahoma community since 2014. We spent time with people understanding the context of the community and how our resources could best complement existing community assets to add value. Through a community-centered design lens, we worked with youth and community leaders to identify areas of opportunity and together build up a vision of a mobile space and what it could contain.
What are your short-term and long-term goals? What is your timeline?
Our short term goals revolve around giving the project a stable and sustainable base off which to launch. This includes developing a sustainable business model, acquiring initial funding, and gathering resources such as a physical bus. Additionally, we are developing the specifics of the curriculum.
In the long term, our goal is to make ADE and the Massachusetts team dispensable, and for the operation to be entirely owned and operated within with Coahoma community. We shape our goals around how to eventually enable this hand-off, and how to build a solid foundation and do initial legwork so that when the bus is running in Mississippi, it will be rolling quickly without to much overhead work.
How much time does a partnered after-school program get allotted?
This is still in development, but the current estimate is that a program will be visited by the bus about once or twice per week, for 1.5-2 hours at a time, for a period of 12 weeks. This is flexible and open to discussion.
Would you offer [activity] to the youth at my program?
We will work with directors at individual organizations to craft curricula that make sense to the context of their program. If you are looking for a specific activity (i.e. tutoring) or for the projects to make a specific connection to your exist curricula (i.e. you are a high school science teacher looking to enrich your lessons), we hope the space will be flexible enough to serve multiple needs and co-create a curriculum plan with you and your program.
What age group do you work with? Will you work with my youth even though they are outside that age group?
We work primary with youth ages 9-15, but we can be flexible if some participants of your program fall outside that range. In particular, older youth may have opportunities to be a volunteer or paid intern in the space.
What happens after youth go through the program?
We imagine that a youth who successfully completes the 12 week curriculum has several options. They may choose to return to the space and use the skills they have learned to continue to do projects - whether continuing the existing tracks, or applying the skills to a self-directed project of their choice. We envision this as an excellent opportunity to grow entrepreneurship skills as well.
Additionally, we will enable pathways for such alumni of the program to return as paid peer mentors. They would learn how to train other youth on the tools they have learned, and be in charge of teaching and mentoring new youth entering the program and going through the guitar-building curriculum. By allowing youth to be in charge of the space, we foster leadership and empowerment and ownership.