Concentrate and On the Ground Ypsilanti have partnered with Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) Upward Bound program for a student writing challenge that poses the question, "How would you solve your community's greatest challenge?" The five winning essays will be published later this month in Concentrate and the winning writers will each receive a $50 stipend.
Upward Bound is a pre-college academic program designed to help Ypsilanti Community High School students improve their skills and prepare them for college. The program includes weekly after-school study sessions; monthly group meetings to provide educational, career, cultural and social enrichment; and a variety of college prep services.
Upward Bound students are currently attending the six-week Upward Bound summer academy. The program includes courses in core subjects that strengthen academic skills; internships that expose students to their chosen career field; and a variety of academic, social, and cultural activities and field trips, as well as the opportunity to experience college life while living on EMU's campus.
Concentrate managing editor Patrick Dunn visited Upward Bound classes July 1 to lead a journalism writing workshop and introduce the writing challenge to Upward Bound students.
"It was such a pleasure working with the Upward Bound students," Dunn says. "Even at an early brainstorming stage, they raised incredibly important community issues and articulated thoughtful ways to address them."
Over two weeks in July, students will draft essays and complete revisions with their peers under the supervision of teacher David Boeving.
"Since our students are here on campus during the summer, it's a great opportunity to enhance their connections to Ypsilanti and the great things going on in town as a group," says Roderick Wallace, director of Upward Bound. "On the Ground Ypsilanti has been committed to telling the stories of the great people in this area, and we are happy to work with them and give our students skills that are transferable in the job market at the same time."
Dunn will select the five best essays, to be announced at the Summer Academy Closing Ceremony July 25. The writers of those essays will each receive $50 and have their work published in Concentrate on July 31 as part of the On the Ground Ypsilanti project.
"We told the students the $50 is not a prize, but a payment for work well done," Dunn says. "The Concentrate team is excited to offer a paid writing opportunity for five talented young writers, and to potentially catalyze their interest in pursuing writing professionally. We can't imagine a better partner in this project than Upward Bound."
"We are proud to partner with Patrick and Sarah (Rigg) from On the Ground Ypsilanti for this venture," Wallace says. "Part of our focus as a program that serves youth is to develop civic ownership, and this essay contest gives them the chance to think critically about their community and about their role in being solution-based about its challenges."
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at email@example.com.
Photo by Misha Tuesday.