Go South Summer

A Peacemaking Project by Michelle P.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Go South was founded in response to two challenges: First, the systemic lack of funding and human capital available to many of the South’s most dedicated public service organizations. Second, the large number of students at Northeastern colleges who do not consider the South when choosing where to live and work. Go South believes we can turn these challenges into an opportunity. By providing Ivy League students with an exciting, financially viable, and clear way to pursue work in the South, we aim to simultaneously support nonprofits in the vital work they already do and expand Yale students’ perspectives and life options in the South. Just as we recognize the South’s many obstacles––how to address deep poverty, health crises, racism and xenophobia, and educational achievement gaps––we recognize the creativity and dedication that southerners pour into overcoming these obstacles. Go South creates a platform where diverse experiences of the region can be shared and mobilized to support the community-based work that southern organizations are doing every day. We want to encourage students from southern states and across the country to go South to support those already fighting hard to make the South an even better place to call home.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of Brain drain from the South among Ivy League graduates
we will address the number of opportunities to pursue work in the South
by providing partially or fully funded summer fellowships to work at established Savannah, Georgia non-profits

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • Bring a cohort of 15 Yale undergraduates to Savannah, GA for Go South Summer 2018
  • Support existing non-profits through capacity-building projects and provide critical human capital to organizations doing great work in Savannah
  • Start conversations at Yale about living and working in the South

We will increase my / our compassion by...

Learning more about the individuals and organizations doing the hard work of building their communities and solving tough problems every day and sharing their vision with Ivy League students. At the same time, we will listen to and address students' concerns about living and working in the South, as many students and graduates want more than jobs; they want to live and work in dynamic communities

How will you show courage?

This initiative is committed to sharing the region’s diverse people, places, challenges, and solutions with southerners and non-southerners alike. We are countering the narratives of what success looks like after graduation, presenting an alternate path for Ivy League students who may not see the South as a viable place to live.

How will you collaborate with others?

We will place our partner organizations' needs first, placing fellows only at organizations who have identified capacity-building projects for fellows that help build undergraduate's skills and experiences while serving the organization's mission.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

The experiences of our first cohort of fellows will help us determine whether or not a summer spent in Savannah can convince Yalies of the meaningful work to be done in the South and the vibrant communities that would welcome them. Beyond that, we will also know that we are moving in the right direction if we see more conversations on campus about opportunities in the South as post-grad options.

Key Steps

  • apply for non-profit incorporation and 501 c3 status
  • Finalize partner organizations and fellow placement positions at Savannah non-profits
  • Raise funds for fellow stipends and lodging
  • Recruit first cohort of Go South Summer Fellows for summer 2018
  • Facilitate conversations among Go South Summer Fellows about what it means to work and live in the South as Yalies--before, during, and after their summer fellowships

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

With the mini grant, we were able to expand the number of conversations with students, nonprofits in savannah, and Yale administrators. Through these dialogues, we saw what a deep need there was for further avenues to involve Yalies in work across the South. Countless students and alums told us about their own stories--how they've come to know the South, why they want to return, and what stands in their way. More than ever, we know that opportunities like the Go South Summer Fellowship must become more accessible for all students.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

Beyond our 2018 summer fellows, our project encouraged a wider group of Yalies to consider work in the south. We have heard from several other students who have changed their summer or post grad plans after being inspired by Go South's work.

How many people were impacted by your project?

75

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

This number includes the Yale students who engaged with our process, the staff at Savannah nonprofits, and the Savannah residents they serve.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

We're continually learning about the great work of our nonprofits and the ways they're making Savannah a better place to live and work. Additionally, we've learned more about the Yalies who want to go south, whether or not they already call the South home.

What did your team learn?

More than anything else, we learned about the importance of early planning and maintaining connections with students, Yale administrators, and contacts in Savannah.

What challenges did your team overcome?

Our biggest challenge was the number of applicants who dropped out of the process. In the end, we're sending 3 fellows to Savannah, which is less than a third of our initial estimates. However, we were able to learn from this experience and talk about ways to tweak the application process for a better yield next year. Having fewer applicants also ended up being beneficial for us to focus on providing support and resources for a smaller cohort.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

We have had ongoing conversations with Yale and Savannah contacts. Throughout the spring, we stayed in contact with Yale Dwight Hall, the Yale Office of Career Strategy, and various alumni networks. These organizations supported us through training resources and network contacts. In Savannah, our partners helped us arrange homestays, navigate communicating with placement sites, and plan activities for fellows.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

Look for the people inside your community already doing similar work, and find ways you can combine your efforts to maximize your impact.

Our Updates:

Go South Goes Live!

Michelle P. 5 February 2018 19:41 With our mini-grant from Go South, we've launched our website at gosouthsummer.com. It's helping us get the word out to potential donors, team members, and of course, our first cohort of fellows. We're getting a lot of interest with our application deadline coming up at the end of this week. Reading all the applications has been great! 

Comments:

Adrian B.
15 June 2018 21:25

Hi Michelle,

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:

Strengths:

I'm so excited about any work that is helping more people appreciate and value the South. Your work towards creating a culture shift where the South is understood as a desirable region to live is deeply needed and powerful. I appreciate how you've thought out the impact that this project can have and have created a program where everyone can benefit and grow.

This work is so important! I admire how you've stuck with it despite challenges, and have taken every problem as an opportunity for learning and growth. I also admire your courage in being an innovative leader on the culture change that is needed around regionalism in Ivy League settings.

Things to consider:

I'm curious about your ideas for why the yield number for the pilot program this summer was so low. I'm familiar with other programs that place paid interns at nonprofits and social justice organizations across the country, and admission into those programs is often to the tune of 1400 applications for 35 spots--much more competitive than admission at any Ivy League school. I know that many Ivy League students have access to much more funding for their work, so this opportunity may be much less rare for them.

Have you considered partnering with another school (or multiple schools), possibly some schools based in the South, to increase the pool of students who might gain a spot? This also could deepen exchange and connection with Southern schools in a way that will help your cause.

I also am curious about how you can screen for/ensure cultural competency, sensitivity to the history of Northerners moving south, and a humble attitude for folks who intern with Go South Summer. What kinds of education and preparation do they get? How do folks who are not from the communities they'll be serving learn how to approach the work in a just way?

This work is so powerful and serving important constituents in this conversation--I'm excited to see where it goes from here!

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!

Best,
Adrian  

Kelsey T.
6 February 2018 10:02

Great to hear recruitment is going so well! I'm excited to hear about what I am sure will be some fabulous learning from your first cohort!  

Michelle P.
5 February 2018 19:36

Thanks for your comments and suggestions, Kelsey! They'll be super helpful going forward. As for your question about the recruitment strategy, we've been hard at work recruiting our first cohort. We're about a week out from our application deadline, and we have a strong applicant pool so far. Luckily, we've found a great group of placement sites that are really drawing people in. And of course, a lot of Southerners here really resonate with our mission.  

Kelsey T.
2 February 2018 15:41

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below

Strengths:
This is such an interesting project and very well thought out! You're addressing a complex set of interconnected issues and have come up with a really compelling project. In particular, I appreciate that you are engaging with students and graduates to find ways to address their broader concerns -- wanting to live in dynamic communities in addition to finding jobs and developing their skills. You've done an impressive job of thinking through the various needs of both partner organizations and Yalies -- and I'm impressed that you've thought to include facilitated conversations about what it means to work an live in the south -- before, during, and after the summer. I think developing opportunities for the fellows to engage in community while they are in Savannah will be key to success -- especially for those who may be new to the South and may need to work through some of the cultural differences they are experiencing with their peers.

Things to Consider:
Although your longer description of the injustice does a great job of explaining how there is a systemic lack of funding and human capital available to the South's public service organizations, I would recommend re-working your Compassionate Insight a bit to clarify the injustice you are addressing. Ivy League students not returning South after graduation is not necessarily an injustice in and of itself -- but it seems like you are trying to point out how this creates a problem of lack of resources for public service organizations in the South and Southern communities. (I've heard the concept "Brain Drain" or "human capital flight" used before to describe similar phenomenons in other places!) Could you re-word your Compassionate insight to make this a bit clearer so that folks can easily understand your thinking?

I'm curious about where you are at with your recruitment strategy -- do you anticipate that it will be easy to recruit your first cohort?

Congratulations and best of luck with your project. Please let us know how we can support you!
 

Fish S. Peace First Staff
22 January 2018 11:44

Hi all, so excited you posted this -- someone from our team will reach out soon with feedback, questions, and ideas. Really excited about Go South's work and how we can support!