This week’s blog post comes from Tim Stephenson, Special Liaison for Program Support. Tim spends the majority of his time in EAST schools working with facilitators, students, and staff on building stronger programs. This week he shares information about a particular passion and best practice, the EAST Community Council. We know from experience that having a strong and engaged Community Council is the surest sign that an EAST Program is successfully helping our students to complete their educational and service goals.
The EAST Community Council is a local EAST Program support group made up of respected and influential community members whose purpose is to actively support and work with the EAST Program Facilitator and students. This is not a “ruling body” but a support group that advocates for and is involved in the daily activities of the local Program. The group should be comprised of community members who can offer expertise and influence to assist the Program. It should also provide a very natural degree of accountability to individual students as well as the overall Program.
For example, individuals on the council might help the Facilitator identify potential clients and resources to further students’ projects. They may also actively help students identify project ideas and connect them to appropriate community members and project resources as opportunities arise.
Members of the Council should advocate for the EAST Program using their individual influence, contacts, and life experience as a shared resource for meeting student and program needs. The number of participants can vary, but the group should begin with at least three. This number should grow as the Program matures and projects become more complex and sophisticated. The group should reflect local community interests as well as the diversity of enterprise found in the community. Membership should not be restricted to any geographic boundaries but should reflect a wide range of areas of expertise and interest.
The Council should meet formally at least twice a year. It is recommended that the group be actively involved in preparing the local Program for EAST Night out and Conference activities, supporting the Program in whatever way is helpful.
The EAST Community Council can be an invaluable help to EAST programs in fulfilling their commitment to community service — while also preparing those students for a successful and productive life after graduation.
And providing our students with an opportunity to improve their world just may be the best education we can give them.