An HWS internship can help students think globally and act locally. Just ask Anna Hartnett ’17 and Hannah Nichols ’17, who recently gave a presentation to Geneva Mayor Ron Alcock, City Manager Matt Horn, and Director of the Office of Neighborhood Initiatives Sage Gerling on the viability of moving the Geneva 2020 initiative to office space in the city of Geneva. Their community based research project was advised by Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Jack Harris.
The Geneva 2020 initiative is an effort to advance the Geneva school system and build a stronger community. Its goals, says Nichols, are to “increase literacy rates, improve graduation rates, and increase students’ career and college readiness.”
From its genesis at HWS five years ago, Geneva 2020 has grown into an initiative that hopes to coalesce community support for 2,200 children who attend grades K through 12, and move toward a ‘cradle to career’ model that focuses attention on the early formative years before enrollment in school and past high school graduation into career attainment. Among its priorities, Geneva 2020 hopes to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. In 2010, the graduation rate was 70.7%; in 2016, it was 87.6%.
“Geneva 2020 seeks to synthesize and integrate already existing programs through a theory known as collective impact,” says Hartnett. “This is the idea that through carefully examining data and thoughtfully combining resources and expertise, the gap between where we are and where we want to be can be eliminated.”
Hartnett and Nichols’s presentation was focused on one aspect of Geneva 2020 – moving the headquarters of the initiative off the HWS campus and into office space in the city. The students say this would create more visibility and encourage participation by additional community groups.
“Geneva 2020 relies upon the support of partners,” says Hartnett. “If the initiative were to move downtown – hopefully to a space that would house other collaborative partners as well – it could continue to foster relationships between Geneva public schools, city government, local non-profit agencies, corporate partners, parents and community members, and established programs advancing Geneva 2020 goals.”
City officials were enthusiastic about the students’ proposal. “The center would be a huge community resource,” says Horn, “connecting parents and students with the vast resources available in Geneva to support the development of our most critical economic asset: our children.”
Although their internship is over, both students intend to remain involved and will be giving presentations to the initiative’s leadership board as well as other groups. “This started as a semester-long internship but we are excited to present our work next semester to the Geneva 2020 Steering Committee and at the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum and to help keep the ball rolling,” says Nichols.
For more information about Geneva 2020, please visit http://www.hws.edu/geneva2020 or contact Amy Jackson Sellers at 781-3825 in the Center for Community Engagement & Service-Learning, Trinity Hall 203.