Taught by Jonathan S. Cullick
The study and practice of writing with attention to audience, purpose, and conventions appropriate to a specific writing situation. This includes the reading, writing, and analyzing of a variety of texts (which may be written, digital, or visual).
- Professor Jonathan S. Cullick
Our class was part of a nation-wide movement of student philanthropists! The Learning by Giving Foundation generously funded our class with a grant of $5,000 to contribute to 1-2 northern Kentucky non-profit organizations of the students’ choice. The Learning by Giving network consists of 35 colleges and universities across the country educating more than 700 students each year.
Nearly every student at NKU completes a first-year writing course. After many years of teaching this course, I have experienced first-hand a basic truth: helping students write effectively requires engaging them to care about what they are trying to communicate in writing. In my ENG 101 Mayerson/Learning-by-Giving class, I teach the same skills as other writing courses but in the context of community needs. For example, in all sections of ENG 101, students complete a persuasive research project. They do the same in my class, but the topics and research are focused on the needs in the northern Kentucky region, and the persuasion they do is to advocate on behalf of the nonprofit of their choice.
Ultimately, I want my students to discover that the ability to communicate effectively with writing is not only a personal good, leading to one’s own individual success, but also a public good, leading to the betterment of society.
I thank the Learning by Giving Foundation for supporting our mission to teach in the context of community engagement.
Of course, this was an unusual semester. Normally, we would have invited non-profits to visit our class. Some students might even have asked to visit the non-profits at their sites. We would have had lively discussion in the classroom within and between community boards. With the COVID-19 situation, we could not do any of that. As it happened in all other classes at NKU and across the nation, we found ourselves communicating with each other through the mediation of computer and cell phone screens. All of our Mayerson/Learning-by-Giving discussion and deliberation took place online. Instead of our anticipation waiting in class for a small group of student election “officials” to count paper ballots, we used online voting methods.
And yet, still, somehow we made it work. I am proud of this group of students. Given the difficult circumstances, they took the process seriously and worked diligently.
As we learned during the presentation by Vickie Henderson, Project Director at NKYCAC, this year has been especially hard in locating the children in an abusive home. Since children were not in school for the most part of this year, there were barely any reports, because most reports come from counselors and teachers who notice signs of abuse. Not only has there been a decrease in reports, but there has also been a decrease in transportation. Because this is one of the few non-profits in Northern Kentucky that focuses on child abuse, many families have to travel from neighboring cities, which can be difficult if they are low income and do not have their own car. Vickie explained how a lot of families rely on friends and neighbors to give them a ride to the Center. This has cost the neighbors a lot of money and the families struggle to pay them back for gas. This is where we come in. The Center asked that we give them money so they can supply gas cards to families who have to drive from a far town, because they serve families in eight counties. Their application highlights the importance of relieving stress on families who have to rely on someone else to give them a ride.
With this project, I have found it very difficult to decide which non-profit may need the most help and funding. I am certain that funding the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center is the right solution. Child abuse comes in different ways from different people. Children need a voice. They deserve respect and to feel heard. If we fund this organization, we are allowing so many more children to be heard, helped, and relieved of the emotional and physical pain they receive from the men and women in their home and community that take advantage and harm them.
— Trinity Sanchez, ENG 101 Student
The mission of the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center is to “provide a coordinated response to concerns of child abuse in a child-focused environment, offering prevention, evaluation and treatment to children and families.” The Center helps children who are victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, those who have witnessed violent crimes, and the families that care for these child victims. In 2020 alone, the Center provided services to over 768 children and their families in Northern Kentucky. The Center could use these funds from the Mayerson class to purchase gas cards, snacks, and picnic tables for the families they serve. This will, in turn, help child abuse rates decrease, which is especially important in Kentucky, since it is the state with the highest child abuse rates in the country. This is especially important right now, since many children are stuck at home with their abusers. If the Center received this funding, then it would help decrease the abuse rates created by the pandemic. . . . The ongoing pandemic proves to be a difficult situation for everyone all around the world, whether one is an adult, a nineteen-year-old in college, or even a kindergartner stuck doing remote learning and unable to see their friends. The crisis also creates bad situations at home due to money shortages and possible mental struggles, which become even worse if abuse and neglect comes into play. The Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center can help to fix this problem. This grant will make their efforts to decrease neglect and abuse rates in the state with the highest rates much more efficient, not to mention easier. This agency can serve as a beacon of hope for those stuck in bad situations due to what is happening economically.
— Alaina Lawrence, ENG 101 Student
Remarks by Vickie Henderson, Executive Director of the Northern Kentucky
Children’s Advocacy Center (NKYCAC): This semester I have had the privilege of participating in the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project at Northern Kentucky University supported by NKU and Learn By Giving.
NKYCAC is a 501c3 organization whose mission is to provide a coordinated response to concerns of child abuse in a child-focused environment, offering prevention, evaluation and treatment to children and families. NKYCAC provides services to child victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, human trafficking, exploitation, and children who have witnessed violent crimes as well as the families who care for them. In 2020, NKYCAC provided forensic interviews, medical examinations, mental health services, and victim advocacy to over 768 children and their families in Northern Kentucky, serving Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Pendleton, and Owen counties
This grant will allow NKYCAC to further support the family advocacy services provided to child victims and their families who are seen at the center every day. NKYCAC’s request for these funds was to specifically purchase gas cards, snacks, and a picnic table.
It has been such a wonderful opportunity to talk with your students about the work that NKYCAC is doing as this is critical in ensuring that the mission of the center continues for years to come. Tragically, our services will be needed in 10 years, 20 years and longer. To continue this critical mission, NKYCAC will depend on support of future professionals such as the students in your class to continue to identify quality services and provide that support. It is important for students to grasp the necessity of nonprofit agencies as critical resources in our nation, as these are the services that protect children, help families be successful, and create safe communities.
I find it crucial to provide students with knowledge on how to identify and evaluate a strong non-profit organization. This includes understanding what occurs when the agency receives donations regardless of the amount of the donation or who the donation is from. For instance, a child who chooses to donate their birthday presents to NKYCAC is as important as a corporation providing ongoing support. It is exciting to see that students are learning where to look to determine a non-profit’s financial sustainability and how to make strong, educated decisions on where their resources can best be used. In meeting with your class, it was exciting to see the next generation of philanthropists and community leaders being developed. Each of you hold the keys to provide the critical leadership and resources for nonprofits today and for the future.
On behalf of the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center, thank you so much for this significant $5,000 award to help the child victims and families we serve! Thank you for helping sustain our future.