Dollar General Grant Winner: Teaching Teens Real World Skills

Butler, Pennsylvania, is a small city 25 miles north of Pittsburgh. Parts of Butler can be fairly suburban, while other parts are quite rural.  The Butler Area Public Library is located in downtown Butler, and serves a population of about 14,000. Two thirds of individuals ages 25 and over have had no post-secondary education. As a result, many of the teens that the library serves are preparing to be first generation college students; families are often not well prepared to teach the skills of adult life to their teens. While local schools have begun making an effort, teens are still finding themselves unprepared to transition into adulthood.

This is just a small sample of the materials we added to the YA Collection on various topics related to “adulting”.

BAPL was fortunate to receive grant funding from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to create summer programming to help teens work on learning or improving real world skills, such as job seeking, budgeting, and meal preparation.  We planned six weeks of programming, with a different focus area covered each week. The goal of the program was to teach the teens soft skills and life skills in ways that were fun and engaging. We also used a portion of the grant funding to update our Young Adult Collection to have more materials that covered these topics.

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$50 for 20: A Dollar General Grant Winner’s Shopping Spree

The $50 for 20 Program made possible by the Dollar General/YALSA Summer Learning Grant had a broader reach than we had ever imagined. The idea was born from a conversation I overheard between a student and the counselor as I was passing in the hallway. The counselor asked, “What do you like to do during the summer?” The student replied, “I just read my mom’s books over and over.” She didn’t have her own books.

Our original was to have high school teachers select twenty of the most at-risk students who needed books at home. We then gave each student $50 each to spend on books and took them on a field trip to the closest bookstore, Books-A-Million, which is 70 miles away.

We started by planning with the 9-12th grade English teachers to help identify the twenty students who would benefit most from having books to read over the summer. Once they were identified, I met with each student individually and explained what we had planned for them and checked to see if they could go with us on the scheduled trip. I met with the principal and received pre approval for our school district to provide the bus driver’s salary, the fuel expense, and the cost of a meal for each student.

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Barrio Writers – It’s all about Intentionality

Barrio Writers is a free, week long, college level writing workshop that is specifically geared towards youth in underserved communities. The program came to my attention through the direction of my colleague, Patricia Valdovinos, our former Outreach Services Librarian. She mentioned that she knew of a cool program an author friend of hers had started down in Santa Ana; I looked into it (you can too, https://www.barriowriters.org/), and knew almost immediately that we needed to bring the program to our youth.

2017 Barrio Writers and writing mentors at the Mary L. Stephens Branch in Davis, CA

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Summer Learning Program Grant updates juvenile detention library

I attended a breakout session at MLA about reaching out to incarcerated youth. I was inspired by the session to do just that – reach our incarcerated youth! I connected with our local juvenile detention center, and worked closely with their summer activities director to bring books to three different groups of incarcerated teens every week. This has been a very rewarding experience!

I have one group of female youth and two groups of males. I have enjoyed experiencing the variety of interests ranging from ancient historical fiction to auto mechanics to lots of NBA! They are always excited to see the new selection of books to choose from each week!

The grant dollars allowed me to update their in-house library which was much needed and greatly appreciated! The detention center has asked me to continue my weekly visits throughout the school year which is the best measure of success to my way of thinking!

Kristine Swanson is the outreach librarian for the Public Libraries of Saginaw. She has the privilege of taking the library to underserved groups of people in her community including the juvenile detention center, assisted living communities and memory care units. She feels blessed every day to be doing what she is doing!

Summer Youth Leaders Wrap-Up @ Pearl Bailey Library

We’ve checked in with our Summer Youth Leaders here and here, and this is Pearl Bailey Library’s final post of the summer.

The youth have helped serve the library and the community in a variety of ways, thanks to the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA. They helped serve over 400 people at the Wickham Avenue Alliance Summer Ice Cream Social event, and assisted us in advertising the library’s services and collections at that event.

In addition they had fun participating in an “adulting” event called the Reality Store, where each Youth Leader had to manage a hypothetical family budget.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: The Summer of Teens and STEAM Camps

For the past two years, Defiance Public Library System (DPLS) has been in the process of revamping the summer reading program by changing the name to Summer BreakOUT and focusing on the whole child. DPLS eliminated the reading requirement and instead made reading one of the possible activities participants could choose to do. Participants could track their activities online or they could choose to play using the paper gameboard.

Eric, Defiance intern

Despite these efforts numbers are dropping. This year our goal was to increase Summer BreakOUT participation through the use of STEAM Camps and a partnership with the summer food program. The STEAM Camps were held over the course of three days for three hours each day. The camps were further divided into three grade level groups: 1-3, 4-6, and 6-8. The DPLS Youth Services Department serves three locations; with minimal staffing and lofty goals we were blessed to have received the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Program grant.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: The Zine Project

Looking for a creative way to connect with teens at your library? Look no further! We’re here to tell you all about The Zine Project.

This summer, with generous support from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, NY, hosted a hands-on workshop for teens to collaborate and have fun while making their very own zine.

Teens at the Zine Showcase with Nicole Rambo, Youth Services Librarian.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Baltimore County Public Library

For the second year, Baltimore County Public Library provided multiple, three-to-five-day Summer Teen Workshops all over the county. While we offered a total of 10 workshops, we were excited to receive the very generous YALSA and The Dollar General grant to be able to provide 3 teen workshops in three targeted communities in Baltimore County – North Point, Lansdowne, and Sollers Point. Each of the branches in these locations serve Title 1 schools, with a large percentage of low income households. We have identified these communities as most in need of resources. At Baltimore County Public Library, we have positioned ourselves to address as many of their needs as possible, by providing space, snacks and programming, but also by actively engaging with the families, building relationships with the youth as well as community members and organizations. We strive to meet their ever-changing and developing needs. With this grant we were able to provide teen’s access to learning new skills, interaction with caring adults, opportunities to engage with other teens and community, and the space to have fun outside of many of the hardships they may endure daily.

With the funds from the grant, we offered 2 Babysitting workshops as well as supplied teens attending the Drone workshop a free drone to build and take home. Since this was our second year offering workshops throughout the summer, we had last year’s input from teens and families about what types of workshops they would like to attend. We also learned from last year that many teens learned about the workshop from their parents or guardians. Parents were thrilled to have free workshops for this age group all summer long. While we still have 4 more workshops left this summer, our survey results so far show that 53% of the teens found out about the workshop from a parent/guardian. This is a big deal to us and shows the need to continue to encourage family engagement and communication when planning workshops for and with teens.

What did you like about the workshop? “I liked that you got to learn about drones and what they’re used for and also build a drone.”

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Teen Interns Support STEAM Programming at North Shelby Library

The North Shelby Library in Birmingham, Alabama, was fortunate to win a 2018 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant which allowed us to select four interns. After we had more than 40 local rising 7th-12th grade students apply, our Friends group provided funds for four additional interns. Each intern was responsible for completing 30 hours of service which included their training day.

One of the main duties of the interns was to support the STEAM programming offered at the library so an interest in science, technology, engineering, art, or math was included as a requirement on the application. During the interview stage, we asked applicants their experience in teaching someone how to do something, if they had a favorite science experiment, and about any technology experience they might have had.

North Shelby Library Teen Interns before their Step into STEAM tween program. (L-R: Nicole Taylor, Stanley Stoutamire, Veronica Kloss, Ty Owes, Halla Stallworth, Mason Coleman, and Sam Reid)

The interns created their own STEAM program for tweens (defined as 8-12 year olds by the library). This program was planned during the last hour of the intern training. Before they started planning, the librarians demonstrated the technology that the library already owned and discussed the programs that were planned for Summer Reading to avoid duplication. The teens were also given budget parameters. The librarians then went to the other side of the room so that the interns could plan without expecting the adults to lead. On their evaluations of the program one of the interns reported that, “Everyone’s ideas were listened to during the planning of the program. We all worked together to come up with multiple ideas, then we picked our favorites. We rejected some ideas because they were similar to existing programs or they were too time consuming.” Another intern added, “A few of my ideas were rejected because they involved things that were too dangerous to be inside the library like fire and large amounts of electricity.”

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Hiring Teen Interns

This summer, the Davenport Public Library was able to hire two teen interns thanks to the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Grant. The Library wanted to give creative and online-savvy teens a chance to see how their skills can be used in a workplace. We chose to create two distinct and specific internship opportunities in Art & Social Media where paying jobs are not often available for Teens, yet there is a high interest and potential for young people. In order to fill these unique internship positions, we first needed to create job descriptions, applications and an interview process.

Although, we received notification of the grant in early February, we quickly learned that we needed to start the hiring process ASAP. The Library formed a team of the HR Manager, the Youth Services & Programming Supervisor, and a Youth Services & Programming Librarian who would be working with the interns and also serves st the Social Media Team Leader. We wanted to post the job at the beginning of March and leave the posting up for about a month. We would then be able to narrow down applications and complete interviews in April and offer the position in early May (so we would have time, although not much, to reoffer the position to another applicant in May if someone turned it down). Since this was a summer internship position, there was no wiggle room nor pushing back the start date if something in the hiring process caused a delay.

Davenport Public Library 2018 Creative Literacy Intern Ariana Hill

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