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2021 community partner spotlight: City Year Detroit

Our third day of community partner spotlights shines the light on another newer partner of Detroit Lions Charities: City Year Detroit.

City Year is an education nonprofit organization helping to close gaps in high-need schools by supporting students' academic and social-emotional development while also providing schools with the additional capacity to enhance school culture and climate.

Teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide research-based classroom and school-wide support to help students stay on track to graduate from high school, prepare for college and for career success.

The Detroit chapter, City Year Detroit, has 116 highly-skilled AmeriCorps members working with 7,000 students throughout Detroit.

City Year Detroit has been a partner of Detroit Lions Charities for 3 years and support from the Detroit Lions funds a City Year Detroit Team at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School (Bethune) in the Fitzgerald Neighborhood of Detroit. This team of 10 corps members provides academic and emotional support for students every day of the school year.

This crucial work of the Americorps members leads to statistically proven improved outcomes for students. At the mid-point of the 2019-20 school year, 81% of Bethune Elementary students with City Year support had shown growth on ELA assessments and 78% improved on mathematics since the start of the school year.

Even during this exceptionally challenging pandemic school year, City Year Detroit has managed to make progress with their presence. Take for instance this recount from Madison Woods, a Bethune Team Americorps Member:

"My Starfish [student] has impeccable attendance and almost always participates in class cahoots, but he has not once turned on his camera and has said less than 10 words out loud all year," Woods said. "Since I've had the privilege of working with him, however, he has made significant progress opening up and communicating. He still hasn't spoken, but he promptly responds to my questions using the chat and is not afraid of telling me that he's having a hard time with classwork."

Woods added that her student has shown remarkable improvement in problem-solving. "Just in our most recent intervention session, he was having a difficult time working through multi-step equations and by the time the session concluded he had walked me through a problem with little coaxing on my part," she said. "Even though I don't know what he looks like, sounds like, and we are separated by a screen, I feel we've developed a strong rapport with one another. It has been such a pleasure working with him and I cannot wait to see how much more he grows by the end of the year."

Aside from Detroit Lions Charities supplying the resources for a team to be on site, there are several other avenues through which the Lions advance City Year Detroit's work at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School.

With a focus on the vitalness of student attendance, Detroit Lions Charities provides "Lions swag" to use as prizes to help get students to school every day.

Roary, the Lions mascot, and Detroit Lions Cheerleaders also participate in the annual Detroit Public Schools Community District "Count Day" to cheer students on and hand out giveaways as they enter the building in the morning.

In 2018 and 2019, Detroit Lions Charities brought the holiday spirit to Bethune with the "Presents from the Pride" program. Lions players, Legends and cheerleaders delivered personalized holiday gifts to each student in the school and read books and played games with each classroom.

Lions players also supported the Bethune "Real Men Read" initiative as part of March is Reading Month in 2021. Lions DE Trey Flowers and S Jalen Elliott read to students and reinforced the importance of reading and education.

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