Natalie’s experience as a fellow at Robin Hood

This summer, I had the privilege of participating in the week-long Robin Hood fellows program. During this program, a group of students from around the New York area came together to learn from organizations working to combat issues related to poverty in the Bronx. We visited a number of sites including the Sustainable South Bronx, Legal Aid, POTS, The Food Bank, and the Children’s Aid Society to hear about the particular problems each organization battled in a hands-on setting. For example, when we visited the Children’s Aid Society, we had the opportunity to spend time with underprivileged pre-schoolers inside the classroom. The Children’s Aid Society implements a curriculum called Tools of the Mind which focuses on building children’s ability to plan ahead and self-regulate. Before participating in any activity, the young children had to first decide what exactly they were going to paint, for example, and write it out in words. Once they had their plan, they were able to creatively execute their plan. These preschoolers were less distracted and more calm than any preschoolers I had encountered previously in other classroom settings. On a different day, we visited the Bronx Housing court and sat in on a few court cases between landlords and tenants. In most cases, the often-non-present landlord had a strong lawyer and the tenant was left without representation or a clue about their legal dilemma, creating an incredibly unequal playing field. Legal Aid partners with the Housing Court to give these tenants representation and a better chance at winning their case. For the culmination of the fellowship, we split up into groups to create well-crafted presentations about the organizations we visited during the week for the parents and Robin Hood staff.

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