Echoing Green is an awesome, but incredibly competitive fellowship that nurtures social enterprises by providing them with all sorts of supports. Their application deadline was 11/12/10, and I gave it a shot. Here are some tidbits from what I submitted. Please note the strict character limits.
Describe your idea for social change in one single sentence. (150 characters including spaces)
To address the science achievement gap in the U.S., Schooba teaches students from low-income communities standards-based science through SCUBA diving.
Describe your idea for social change in one single paragraph. (500 characters including spaces)
Schooba is a science mentoring program with an engaging hook and 1:1 tutoring. Scuba diving is used as a way of: 1) facilitating the relationship between the student and mentor, 2) presenting standards-based science in an engaging, relevant, and hands-on method, and 3) exposing the student to a new and significant experience. Weekly student-mentor meetings alternate between tutoring sessions and the scuba training. We will grow by expanding our network of partnering schools and dive shops.
What specific problem in the world are you trying to solve? Where possible, use statistics and references to identify the size and scope of the problem. (500 characters including spaces)
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (2005), only 16% of 8th graders considered proficient in science were low-income students (compared to their 37% presence in the population). This issue is concerning, as the National Science Foundation predicts that “eighty percent of jobs in the next decade will require some form of math and science”. I intend to provide the benefits of an interest in science to a growing number of low-income students each year.
What, specifically, will be your programs or products? Who will you work with? (1000 characters including spaces)
We believe that a poor performance in science stems from a lack of engagement.
When a student joins Schooba, they are paired with a mentor. Through the 9 week course, they learn to scuba dive together, meeting for at least one hour a week. Every other week, these meetings are 1:1 tutoring sessions. To facilitate the tutoring, the mentor uses the Schooba curriculum, which presents standards-based science in the context of scuba diving. On opposite weeks, the student and mentor participate in a partnering dive shop’s introductory scuba course. These meetings take place in a pool, where the pair scuba dive and participate in science activities underwater. After completion of the course, an alumni program works to keep the student and mentor connected to the Schooba community.
We will work with low-income middle and high school students who have an interest in the program and an ability to meet its guidelines. In a survey of 80 Title I students, 39% met these standards.