Last week, we shared the news that we had welcomed to the team new VISTA Members which rounded our total to four. Today, we introduce you to Alessandra who will be coordinating work within the out of school time field. She recently hosted and gathered the BOOST Network (Borderland Out of School Time) for its quarterly meeting successfully.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas before attending Pitzer College in Southern California and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience and Spanish in 2016. During college, I interned at an afterschool program that established my love for literacy and made me an advocate for afterschool programs in general.
2. Tell us about the work you’ll be leading?
As the Out of School Time Coordinator, I will be working closely with the Borderland Out of School Time (BOOST) Network in organizing partnerships, supporting and fostering collaboration, and maintaining communication among afterschool and summer program agencies in the Paso del Norte region.
3. What are your and United Way's end goals for this work?
By the end of my year of service, I hope to have grown the BOOST Network membership by 30 percent. The goal is to have as many quality out of school time stakeholders involved with the BOOST Network as possible. We want youth in the Paso del Norte region to have knowledge of and access to afterschool and summer programs. By creating awareness among stakeholders, we hope youth engagement and participation will follow.
4. Why is this work important to our community?
According to the Afterschool Alliance, only 18 percent of Texas’ K-12 children participate in afterschool programs, yet 37 percent reported they would attend afterschool programs if they were available to them. Kids and teens who participate in afterschool programs are more likely to experience increased school attendance and increased grades (Harris County Department of Education, 2010). United Way of El Paso County is in a unique geographical location and is able to reach and coordinate among afterschool agencies not only in West Texas and Southern New Mexico, but also in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
5. How do you hope to grow as an individual as part of the VISTA program.
Being a VISTA has already been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have learned so much professionally, as well as personally, just within the time I completed my Pre-Service Orientation to now. By being a VISTA, I feel I am able to effect change within the community from an agency level.