The Dignified Learning Project initially started as a research initiative in 2015. Eventually, what started as research grew to become a nonprofit organization. All members involved have been with the organization in some capacity from the beginning. The organization focuses on three primary areas: student services, teacher collaboration, and community engagement.
Each of these areas involve a great deal of programming that aim to increase community involvement for the purpose of educational transformation. There is a great deal of literacy development as well as an emphasis on increasing a college culture for students who may not necessarily have that motivation, encouragement, or support. All of the students we have supported through college applications have been accepted, including students who have received scholarships, including a full-ride scholarship. All of our students come from diverse backgrounds racially and by socioeconomic status. Our goal is not to merely encourage students to apply and attend college, but to also have support. The purpose of this is not allow students to fall through the cracks once they are in college. In addition, we have developed a family college support initiative that allows parents, guardians, and other family members involved to gain information, develop tools to support their students, be informed in the entire process.
Teacher collaboration is focused on supporting teachers through professional development as well as networking and overall supports. This collaborative effort is built through conferences for professional development, seminars and workshops, as well as book clubs and overall conversational narratives. In addition, curriculum development is offered through the organization, with free access as well as membership/subscription opportunities.
For community engagement, the purpose of this is to involve community members in the work we are doing, be sure to center community voice in transformative efforts, and to give back to the very community that is allowing us to serve them. In the past, this has been through workshops, informative sessions, public talks, and meals. We are launching our supplies drive as well, where we will have opportunities for students and families of all backgrounds to receive supplies necessary for school success regardless of K-12 or college age attendance.
Encompassing all of these is our Institute on Youth Research and Activism, where we will focus on training students and teachers alike to do community-based research and then to use that research to inform change, such as policy, programming, and even consulting work on how to start a nonprofit, as our nonprofit was started by those involved. Lastly, we also have an annual conference that has been very successful, called the Praxis in Education conference, the centers student work on social change.
Our nonprofit officially started in 2016 administratively. We have maintained our activity within our community. We aim to build this into a long-term sustainable organization that can focus its efforts further on the community, building networks and partnerships with schools, districts, and individuals who are interested in our trainings and supports. Our customers, or participants, are community members, such as the San Diego Parks and Rec, or the UCLA Neuropsychiatry department, who has received consulting work from us, or smaller organizational meetings. In addition, we work closely with students who come from lower income neighborhoods. While we have been successful thus far with the students we work with, we aim to increase our programming and focus on students in middle school as our after school programming to continue and strengthen our community attendance culture. We want to ensure students have the ability and belief in themselves of their ability to go and do well in college.
Our Executive Director, Charlene, is in her last year of her PhD program. She has been a secondary school teacher in the humanities as well as college sociology professor. She is one of the founders of the organization. She has worked closely doing a great deal of community work, and continues to do so. In her work, she has helped many students apply to college and gain acceptance, and helps them continue to do so through their college experience.
Dr. Jung Choi, the board president, is a full-time professor at San Diego State University. He has done a great deal of community-based work in places like Columbia and Grenada, focused in health disparities and information sessions. He continues to do community work in the Korean community and greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas.
Dr. Choi and Charlene are both published academics as well.
We have other team members as well, including Shine Kim, who works closely with Charlene, who has completed research and is in her PhD program in Education. She has completely research, worked with research initiatives, and has experiences with policy work. Our board consists of other professors, master's degree holding individuals, and former military and current civilian employees, and we are in the process of recruiting another board member to oversee our teacher recruitment and mentoring initiative.
Our goal is to turn this into an effort that can dedicate more time for more students to increase our impact and social efforts for a better tomorrow.
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