As some of you may well know I have been back at the books at VCU working on my Master in Art Education. The program has been a fantastic experience so far and I have really enjoyed having access to the VCU (number one public school art program!) art department as well. While their photo program was not exactly the pride of the department in the past, Brian Ulrich has been hired as a new professor and I am sure the program will likely be on the ups.
While at VCU I began volunteering at the Carver Promise program at GW Carver Elementary. Carver Elementary is in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Richmond. The average family income for the students at Carver is around $10,000. The kids there have a harder go of it than most of us do and the Carver Promise program has made a huge difference in the lives of these kids. Most of them now graduate from high school and most go on to college.
I spend an hour or so a week working with students from the program helping with their homework and creating art. It has been an amazing and eye-opening experience. Last year I wrote a grant for the program to get some new computers into the mentoring room. Needless to say the grant was not approved. The grant had tons of applicants and very little money to give out with the economy in the toilet.
I was disappointed and to top it off, our department at VCU announced we were going to be getting all new computers to replace our 2 1/2 year old IMacs. It made me feel even worse that while the kids at Carver can’t get anything newer than an 11 year old PC we get brand new IMacs every three years. I guess my feeling must have been felt throughout the department as I recieved an email from the head of the department asking if the Carver Promise would like some of our old computers. I delivered five IMacs loaded with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, and tons of other great programs to Carver yesterday and it made their day.
Being involved in this program, even just an hour or two a week, has made a huge difference in my life and hopefully has meant something to the kids I have worked with. I encourage those of you who have the time to help out wherever you can. It really does make a difference.