Local Students Found Kids Corp.

Lindsey Mendelson and Ali Oshinsky

As students return back to school, many attending classes in Liberty City and Overtown will be met with piles of supplies thanks to high school students Lindsey Mendelson, a student at Ransom Everglades School, and Ali Oshinsky, who attends Pine Crest School. The two cofounded Kids Corp and recently partnered with Simon Malls in a school supplies drive, collecting from shoppers, stores and employees over 10,000 duo tangs, pencils, glue sticks, scissors, erasers rulers and index cards. The Kids Corp program is expected to grow to 200 volunteers this school year and is dedicated to community service and youth leadership initiatives that help build capacity and bolster resources in high-need schools. It is affiliated with the nationally renowned Teach For America organization.

“I have admired Teach for America from a distance thinking it was an organization where college grads and adult volunteers could help. Through Kids Corp, hundreds of teenagers throughout Dade County from dozens of schools can get involved and make a difference in so many classrooms,” said Mendelson. “In addition, Kids Corp is supporting the ongoing work of our community to expand educational opportunities at high-need schools and introducing high-school age volunteers to see what it takes to eliminate educational inequity in our country.”

Kids Corp hosts a Google platform where Teach For America corps members have the option to post projects that will support their classroom lessons and objectives. The online tracker includes project specifics, due dates, and delivery information as well as opportunities to visit classrooms to work one-on-one with the students.

“Kids our age know the power of social media. In forming Kids Corp, we wanted to harness that power and use it to spread the word about the variety of ways we can help make a difference in bridging the education gap,” said Oshinsky. “Through social media sites, we can reach out to friends all over the country, supporting Teach For America corps members while also providing a platform to educate the community and high school students.”

Through technology and social media networking, Kids Corp is exploding. Mendelson and Oshinsky successfully launched a crowdsourcing campaign via Fundly raising $10,000 to support Teach For America and use social media to spread the word about Kids Corps and educational inequity to kids across Southern Florida and across the country.

Kids Corp currently focuses on Lenora B. Smith Elementary, Holmes Elementary, Morningside Elementary and reaches approximately 25 classrooms of averaging between 20-30 kids per classroom. The group now has over 100 volunteers extending from South Dade County to Broward County, including kids from Ransom Everglades, Pine Crest, Gulliver, Palmetto, Kropp, Beth Am, Felix Varela, Carrolton, Key Biscayne Community School, and University School. Kids Corp is hoping to have over 200 volunteers by the end of the school year.

“It’s wonderful to see how entrepreneurial our young people can be and to see how Kids Corp is really working to support student learning and the work of teachers,” said Maxeme Tuchman, executive director of Teach For America – Miami-Dade. “I’m thrilled that Lindsey and Ali have tapped the talent and leadership of so many students and created a program that highlights the importance of education and service to our community.”

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