Listen to the Networks for Social Impact podcast with Northwestern University Professor Michelle Shumate as she interviews GEP's Monica Chavez-Silva to learn about the Grinnell Education Partnership. Chavez-Silva shares about the Grinnell Campaign for Grade Level Reading - how this program originated and continues to evolve and thrive in Grinnell's rural community. The full podcast, titled Rural Networks for Social Impact in Education, is a part of the Networks for Social Impact in Education Series.
Shumate was especially interested in how projects develop within a structure that prioritizes decentralized governance. Chavez-Silva shared about the GEP-AmeriCorps partnership:
"We were the main grant administrators for several AmeriCorps grants. Those AmeriCorps members have really provided the people power behind Grinnell's effort from the very beginning. The [GEP] team is there to be facilitators, not decision makers. It's up to the AmeriCorps members to choose community members to serve on taskforces with support from the team to help provide different perspectives and connections."
Chavez-Silva elaborated on a few of this year's AmeriCorps VISTA taskforce projects, highlighting the Healthy Readers Activity Packs project realized in cooperation with the Grinnell College Museum of Art, and the Skills Gap Digital Divide efforts that provided reduced-rate internet access to families who needed it for remote schooling.
The interview also attributes GEP's success to the ability to rely on the Campaign for Grade Level Reading's research-driven framework while also finding flexibility in terms of what works for the Grinnell community. Chavez-Silva emphasized that success relies on being dedicated to the belief that the ideas, experts, and knowledge reside within the community. GEP is proud to serve as the facilitator, providing the tools and resources for community members to define and meet their needs through their own knowledge.