Community empowerment. Mentorship. Friendship. Educational equity. Laughter.
These are the core tenants that the UCLA community service group, Kids Korner, prides itself on.
Every Sunday, rain or shine, 16 UCLA volunteers, armed with worksheets, supplies for activities, and a pair of keys to two large white vans, travel from Westwood to a government-subsidized housing community in North Hollywood. There, children, young adults, and the UCLA students meet to work on individually-catered academic worksheets, homework, and other various forms of test prep.
With a rising number of understaffed and overpopulated public schools in the area, Kids Korner aims to reduce educational inequity by providing free weekly tutoring and mentorship. For some children, this can be the only one-on-one attention they receive outside of the public school system.
Recently celebrating their 10th year of service, Kids Korner strives to continuously improve its service program by adapting the curriculum and integrating contemporary topics and social issues.
“This year we have begun to have a deeper understanding of the needs of our service recipients and the community, therefore more efficiently serving our target population,” said Shabrin Murshed, Co-Administrative Director of Kids Korner.
In an effort to improve their understanding of the community, Kids Korner offers open office hours for interacting with the children’s parents and frequently collaborates with various UCLA campus entities to bring to light various issues such as bullying, discrimination, and electoral politics. This year’s collaborations with Vietnamese for Community Health; Medical, Educational Missions and Outreach at UCLA; and the Drug Outreach and Education Program incorporated lessons in financial literacy, health, medicine, and cultural awareness. These collaborations diversified the curriculum and enhanced Kids Korner’s education model, encouraging higher-level critical thinking not often discussed in elementary and middle school classrooms
To Kids Korner, education does not stop at the classroom doors; it should extend into the kids’ everyday lives.
“This year we wanted to expand our curriculum to give our service recipients ways to apply what they learn in school to their everyday lives. We hope this allows our service recipients to better understand the world they are living in and become more socially-aware individuals,” said co-curriculum director Elisabeth Hartman.
Apart from educational resources, Kids Korner also strives to take their kids beyond the borders of the apartment complex and into the community. With field trips to places such as the California Science Center, the LA Zoo, the Natural History Museum, and Disneyland, the organization offers quarterly educational field trips, free of cost, to their service recipients in order to provide broader learning opportunities and foster stronger relationships between the children and the volunteers. By combining both education and hands-on learning, Kids Korner aims to expand education from the confines of the classroom to the outside world.
Commenting on her experience with Kids Korner, Murshed said, “Being involved in Kids Korner has truly opened my eyes to how much of an impact service has on individuals and the community.”
For the impact Kids Korner has made upon many Los Angeles residents, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are proud to award Kids Korner with the Spring 2016 Mongelli Award for Excellence and Civic Engagement. For more information and updates from Kids Korner, follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram, and its website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.