Monday, August 24, 2015

N.C. program helping impoverished rural Appalachian girls obtain college-ready tools

Partnership for Appalachian Girls' Education Initiative (PAGE) is a program designed to give impoverished rural girls in the mountain community of Madison County, North Carolina, (Family Search map) the tools they need to be prepared for college, Dale Mackey reports for the Daily Yonder. Madison County native and Harvard University graduate Deborah Hicks told Mackey, “I wanted to found an organization that would support girls like me. Girls who are growing up in this specific kind of rural poverty but don’t have opportunities for educational enrichment, for summer programs, for year-round opportunities that would help them succeed and go on to college.”

"Each summer, 50 girls enter PAGE the summer before sixth grade and continue through middle school. The goal is to prepare the girls for success in high school and help them get ready to apply to and attend college," Mackey writes. "The intensive six-week summer programs focus on digital education. The girls learn advanced skills by creating digital storytelling pieces about their lives. Using storytelling helps make the program fun, but Hicks says it’s also tied to the girls’ roots, as storytelling is an important part of Appalachian culture." Digital education also helps participants think about pursuing careers "beyond lower-skilled and lower-paying jobs in the service industry."

Participants stay in the program for four years, "developing their increasing digital skills, in addition to participating in reading groups, fostering leadership, exploring career paths and, Hicks is quick to point out, having fun," Mackey writes. The first group of 50 girls who entered PAGE in 2012 are entering their junior year of high school.

Hicks notes that the one problem with the program is finding jobs in Madison County for participants once they finish college, Mackey writes. "The PAGE program is working with organizations that can help bring jobs into Madison County. One such group focuses on rural 'insourcing'—creating information technology jobs in rural communities." (Read more)

No comments: