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CCE&S Honored by Local Nonprofit

CCES - Septima Clark Award

Adams (left) and Campos received the Septima Clarke Empowering Children and Communities Award from local nonprofit nonprofit MOMIE’s TLC. Photo by Patrick Bradley.

Two glass stars glimmer on the shelves of Marcy Campos and Robin Adams in AU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service.

The stars represent the fruits of a long-standing community partnership with local youth mentoring and tutoring nonprofit MOMIE’s TLC. After seven years of collaboration that has brought scores of AU students to MOMIES to support literacy, learning, and other efforts, the group honored Campos and Adams with their Septima Clarke Empowering Children and Communities Award.

Adams, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement & Service (CCE&S), believes they received the award for their shared vision of what it means to help the District of Columbia’s youth.
 
“Specifically, I think we were selected because of our long-standing partnership with the organization and being able to provide a holistic approach that mimics their approach,” she says. “Not just focusing on one area but many ways to provide avenues for the program to receive support.”

CCE&S currently has 20 AU students tutoring MOMIE’s some 80 kindergarten through high school youth five days a week at their Brightwood center in northwest DC. AU also supports the organization through one-day service events throughout the year as well as over the summer, as AU students volunteer as counselors at MOMIE’s educational camp. Proceeds from the campus’s end of semester Project Move-Out sale have gone to the group as well.

“It’s probably our strongest community partner between this office and any other site in the District of Columbia. Part of that is because there are multiple ways of collaborating,” says Campos, CCE&S director. “It’s one of the most mutually beneficial and reciprocal [relationships].”

Chitra Subramanian is deputy director of MOMIE’s TLC, which stands for Mentors of Minorities in Education’s Total Learning Cist-Tem. She’s also an AU alumna, having graduated in 2005 with a master’s degree in arts management. During her time at American, she worked with MOMIE’s as a volunteer through CCE&S, eventually landing a full-time staff position at the nonprofit after graduation.

According to her, she’s not the only AU eagle connected with MOMIE’s that’s been significantly impacted by volunteering with the group.

“Many of our AU alumni are now also pursuing careers in education, teaching, or nonprofit work. It's so exciting to see how we've nurtured talent,” she says. “AU students and the Center's commitment to MOMIE's have really given strength and foundation to our academic tutoring program, which has provided incredible and necessary support for our children.”

To Adams, Subramanian’s rise to her current post shows another educational – and professional – benefit to the shared vision between AU and MOMIE’s.

“Over time, we’ve both grown the leadership out of our partnership,” she says, “and just provided opportunities for students to get a full sense of what it means to be a part of a nonprofit and also assume a leadership role within a nonprofit.”

Working with MOMIE’s provides an opportunity for students to explore issues of diversity and how they relate to education, and the support as students explore has allowed MOMIE’s to reallocate resources enough to recently open a second location in Maryland.

MOMIE’s itself received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House in 2010, and when AU made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll this year for the seventh time, it was – as Adams says – due in large part to the work with MOMIE’s.

“Having MOMIE’s in [our Honor Roll application] really gives value to the ‘what we do’ and that this work can be meaningful if it’s done in a really thoughtful way,” she says. “This partnership has always been a very thoughtful one. We’ve spent hours trying to make sure they’re getting what they need.”

Of the many nonprofits Campos and Adams work with, it’s clear that their relationship with MOMIE’s is a special one, and the stars on their shelves are just the final touches – for now – on what makes this collaboration such a powerful one for all involved.

“In general nonprofits appreciate what we do, but they don’t necessarily validate in that way,” she says. “It means a lot to us for them to say, ‘We selected you because what you’re doing is unique and it makes a huge contribution. We couldn’t be the organization we are without you.’ When we heard about it, it was an honor.”