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Turning Social Isolation Into Social Impact

Monday, July 13, 2020

While sheltering in place and learning from home brought about great challenges for students (and their parents!), it also brought about exciting opportunities that the SFFS community may not have experienced otherwise. Our former 8th grade clerks—now our most recent SFFS alums—Maya, Ben, Erez, and Samara were some of those who found some silver linings and seized a special opportunity to learn, lead, and make a difference while at home. 
They were selected to be a part of a new effort launched by the National Network of Schools in Partnership (NNSP) called the Student Task Force for Community Engagement. The goal of the project was to create a forum where students could share ideas and build capacity to help their community in this time of crisis. For seven weeks, they joined 70 students via Zoom from around the country (grades 8-12) to participate in a program that taught them advocacy and activism skills. Eventually they broke up into small teams based on shared interests for social entrepreneurship, and within the groups they were charged to develop a way to create change in their communities even while in quarantine. Midway through the process our clerks presented their work and facilitated conversations with the entire Middle School during a virtual Zoom assembly. The program culminated on their graduation day when they participated in a "Shark Tank" competition in front of judges to hear their ideas.  
Ben and Erez were in a group that tackled gentrification and homelessness. Erez shared, "Our group created an organization, called the YFH, or Youth Fighting Homelessness. Our organization has a philosophy based around three actions: prevention, education, and advocacy." Follow them on Instagram
Samara was part of a team advocating for food insecurity awareness and seeking local help and resources during COVID-19. Samara shared, "The issue is not something that can be put on pause because of the effects of coronavirus, it is so relevant and urgent to address. I was also drawn in because of previous work in the topic at Friends, volunteering at the SF/Marin Food Bank or Glide Memorial Church, and meeting people who relied on the services." 
Maya was part of a team that examined environmental issues, in particular ocean pollution. “We made a website aimed at education,” shared Maya, “... with resources to help people reduce their negative impact on the oceans. My group has continued to work on the website, and will be launching it soon.” Her big take-away from being a part of this project: “... if you believe in something strongly enough, then you have the power to convince the world.” 
And low and behold... (drum roll please)... Samara, Ben, and Erez were on winning teams! As a prize for winning, their teams now have the opportunity to work over the summer with a non-profit incubator designed specifically for students (CORE Foundation) to get their ideas off the ground!
We are so proud of these students to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn, connect, and make an impact, and to put our schools values into action during a time when helping others is more important now than ever.  What amazing leaders and changemakers letting their lives speak. Can’t wait to see what the future holds in high school and beyond!