Bridging the Educational Enrichment Gap: Kateri Park (by Max, Caitlyn, and Jennifer K.)

IMG_3566As part of a senior capstone project for Portland State University we, a small group of senior students, were asked to take a look at the state of educational inequality in the Portland Public School district. More specifically we chose to research the impact of community partners in the Portland area who aid families in their quest for a heightened educational experience. Community organizations have the ability to help bridge the education gap by providing necessary, but often missing, resources that have a crucial impact on a child’s success in school. These resources can range from skill building tools such as tutoring or extra-curricular after school activities, to resources that meet day-to-day needs of families, such as food, clothing or livable housing situations.

Check out this video we made: Supporting Families & Supporting Kids: Kateri Park.

The community partner that we were fortunate enough to be able to work with was the Kateri Park housing community, run by the Christian Charities organization. The housing community serves as a housing option for low-income families, as well as a refugee resettlement location for primarily Somali, Burmese and Nepali families who feared persecution in their home countries. Along with safe and affordable housing, the community also offers after school and summer programs for its youth residents that offer extra educational support. This includes after school art and physical education courses, literacy and ESL classes, homework help sessions, one-on-one tutoring and early education courses. Kateri Park also offers both literacy and ESL classes, and skill building courses for its adult residents.

We as a group worked during the Get Artsy with Multicultural Kids volunteer opportunity, where we had the chance to lead a summer art course with a group of kids from Kateri housing. The kids themselves were an incredibly eager and energetic group of diverse children, who were both excited to be able to participate in an art project as well as escape from the summer heat. While there was an “assigned” art project that involved creating origami shapes and paper fortunetellers, many of the kids chose their own way of expressing their creativity, which was readily applauded by the classroom leaders. Overall the experience was seen as a positive one by all who participated, including ourselves who had the chance to interact with a community we were unaware even existed in the Portland, Oregon area.

Kateri Park is just one of the many great community partners in the Portland area that can contribute towards bettering a child’s education. They offer a safe environment that can serve as an extension of a child’s in school education, and add to the goal of creating a more equitable learning experience for all children in the Portland area. These types of community partners should be encouraged as they add an invaluable resource to both children and families alike. If you would like to become involved with Kateri Park, or a similar program in the Portland, Oregon area, than we would encourage you to visit any of the following links provided for listed volunteer opportunities:

http://www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org/volunteer_opportunities.asp

http://www.handsonportland.org/HOC__Affiliate_Home_Page

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