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Joshua Gillin
By Joshua Gillin September 24, 2015

Mini-grants, St. Pete High pilot program move goals forward

Believing that working in the community is the key to fostering a sense of civic pride, Mayor Rick Kriseman has pushed new service-learning initiatives for St. Petersburg's youth.

Kriseman's goal is to help students become involved in their communities by promoting service-learning projects, in which schools identify a community need and address it as part of the curriculum. Think organizing clothing drives, working with disabled people or volunteering for advocacy groups.

Citing work he did as a state representative, Kriseman has pushed for integrating community service for students since before his 2013 mayoral campaign. He has often pointed out a measure he sponsored that encouraged service-learning courses in schools ended up in a Republican-sponsored Senate bill that became law.

Now in his second year as mayor, Kriseman's goal of creating a curriculum-based approach to service learning in St. Petersburg schools is ramping up.

The city's St. Pete's Promise initiative has started providing mini-grants for service learning. The Mayor's Service Learning Challenge offers $500 from the Pinellas Education Foundation to school-based student organizations at elementary, middle and high schools that want to start their own projects. Each school can win one grant for a project per school year.

Also, a service-learning pilot program at St. Petersburg High School is set to have its first meeting on Oct. 1. Students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparedness program at St. Pete High will be mentored by Eckerd College students and faculty who will help identify and organize a service-learning project. The pilot has been in development since the 2014-15 school year.

Kriseman has a way to go before such programs are in every school, but he has made progress toward his ultimate goal. We rate this promise In The Works.

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