(atop Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park)
"It's fun, but also, I notice I make better decisions when I come around more, when I participate consistently."
— Monte, 16
when asked why he's
a VineCorps member
VineCorps is a comprehensive youth development organization that builds neighborhood hubs of connection, action and growth for teens in under-served areas of Prince George's County, Maryland. Working closely with youth who contend with challenging circumstances, we bridge opportunity gaps by offering personally-tailored educational support, family assistance, and access to crucial life experiences beyond the classroom, including high-quality summer employment — all with relentless encouragement.
VineCorps engages youth during out-of-school time to help them own responsibility, contribute and serve, make the most of good opportunities, take the right risks, work through setbacks, navigate transitions, and realize their own unique potential, in school, on the job, and in life.
Summer 2018 — Service & Adventure on the Job!
This summer, VineCorps partnered with Prince George's County, Prince George's Community College, and eight local nonprofits and churches to employ our teens full time for six weeks! Last year, the Prince George's Youth@Work! Summer Youth Enrichment Program (SYEP) expanded to include select nonprofit organizations as host job placement sites for summer youth employees, which now includes VineCorps. The County hires and pays the youth employees, Prince George's Community College provides Job Readiness training and Career Pathways trainings, and VineCorps employs and supervises the young workers. "Community-based Nonprofits: Mission-Focused Jobs & Careers" was VineCorps' SYEP theme. In addition to coordinating VineCorps' own Summer Leadership Adventures (SLA) program, our SYEP team also worked with nonprofits to plan and perform a variety of service projects, including river clean-up and restoration with Anacostia Waterfront Society and Bladensburg Waterfront Park (above left), reorganizing and stocking the food pantry at SEED, inventorying and distributing school supplies for the Mount Calvary Thrift Store (below), serving dinner to the homeless at Holy Redeemer, fixing up rain gardens for Cheverly United Methodist Church, and serving as Peace Camp counselors with Little Friends for Peace (bottom left).
Our leadership adventurers this summer hiked over ten miles and 2,500 feet of elevation climbing down and up Cedar Run and Whiteoak Canyon (above right), swimming in waterfalls along the way. They also biked along the Anacostia from Bladensburg Waterfront to the new Southwest Waterfront and went paddle boarding on the Potomac. They scaled the cliffs with harness and rope again at Carderock, an annual favorite. The greatest highlight of the summer for most, however, was our close encounter with a family of bears while camping in Shenandoah National Park. One morning a mother and three cubs wandered as close as ten yards from us. While momma foraged, the cubs scampered up trees (bottom right) to get a better look at us. Evidently, they were as curious about us as we were thrilled to see them. After visiting for twenty minutes or so, we finally parted ways.
VineCorps structured the summer program (both SYEP and SLA) to focus youth on the eight 21st Century Skills badges developed by the Education Design Lab: Initiative & Leadership, Collaboration, Creative Problem-Solving, Critical Thinking, Intercultural Fluency, Empathy, Oral Communication, and Resilience. Each day required exercising and reflecting on all of these skills, and the youth evaluated themselves on their growth in these areas. For their efforts, our SYEP participants gained substantial experience in these and other skills, and earned about $2,000 in after-tax take-home pay.