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2020-21 PROGRAMMING: ADAPTING TO COVID-19 POSSIBLE SCENARIOS
Manuel Alonso, Executive Director – July 1, 2020
Current Plans: To Continue Offering the Sustainable Youth 2020-21 Paid Internship Program to Our Public High School Partners, with the addition of a new component, a “Turnkey” Plan B for SIP periods.
At Earth Team, we have been working very hard to respond to the COVID-19 crisis for the past 3 months. We have just successfully completed the 2019-20 program and we have learned a lot, so we would like to describe some of the measures we have taken to respond to the COVID-19 situation in the coming year. You will also find frequent updates on the status of our program on our webpage.
Our intention is to continue offering the 2020-21 Sustainable Youth Paid Internship Program (SYPIP) to all our high school partners, subject to available funding which will be confirmed by July 31, 2020. We have started our 19-20 internal evaluation that will guide the 20-21 planning process and 20-21 program schedule, to be completed by 8/15/2020. The strategy is to plan to deploy our typical internship activities, which are firmly established and tested in the current program model, with the addition of a Virtual Plan B to respond to temporary SIP school district orders, if and when they come.
This Virtual Plan B is already in motion. We continue developing additional online content and incorporating new tools and best practices. We have gained significant experience in deploying virtual meetings in the last three months, and as a result we are confident that we can operate the program in that type of up/down, or “dimmer switch” scenario. Student-intern retention this year, when we switched to remote-only meetings, was excellent, not losing a single enrollee in our program.Given current data regarding COVID-19, it seems that this “peaks and valleys” scenario, with hot spot closures and re-openings, is what we can expect starting in the Fall of 2020 and beyond, perhaps for one to two more years. Earth Team will always follow the specific school district SIP orders, switching to remote mode immediately the same day that a district orders a school closure.
For 2020-21 we are also planning to provide Internet access (via hot spots) for low-income students that apply for it. We conducted a survey with our 100 interns, and about 10% of the future enrollees may require financial support to access fast internet so they can attend all virtual meetings.
Earth Team has been operating its program without interruption for 25 years. We have accumulated a great deal of institutional memory, resilience and capacity to respond to difficult situations. This is a unique challenge, but in the past 3 months we have shown that we have the capacity for nimble and creative responses, incorporating quickly the best available technologies and increasing our investments in infrastructure and staff training, so we can continue serving our communities that now, more than ever, need nonprofits to fill the space being left by an overwhelmed public education system.
Castro Valley SITA Earth Team created a rap parody to showcase the creation and motivation for building the Enviromobile, an interactive exhibit to produce carpooling among peers.
Earth Team programs empower urban youth to become lifelong environmental stewards. Students implement action projects that provide active learning about environmental science. They engage in peer-to-peer education activities, sharing their school-based service-learning projects with other students. EarthTeam’s leadership opportunities promote pathways to college and environmental science and technology careers.