Club Spotlight: High-Schoolers make big impact

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Club Spotlight: High-Schoolers make big impact

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Rising Youth Association is a non-profit organization founded and run by high school students that strives to provide quality education for children in low-income households. The organization was founded in December 2018 by a group of juniors in the FUSD area with a goal of implementing STEM-based curriculum in low-income housing departments and orphanages. They now have three programs for low income students in the Fremont area: Main Street Village, Laguna Commons, and Sundale Arms. Volunteers can help children with their schoolwork and keep them entertained after school.

“I started the organization because I’ve always been passionate about volunteering, but I realized my ability to help children could be exponentialized if I built a structure of my own,” says Rachel Xu, current executive director and founder. She and her co-founders would contact apartments with low-income residents and ask them if they had younger residents who could benefit from a weekly tutoring session. 

RYA’s first program was in partnership with the Olive Children Foundation in Mission when they were first founded. Now, they have expanded, with numerous programs and chapters in Fremont, San Jose, and Milpitas. As the number of programs has increased, the organization has also appointed program directors to manage the day-to-day runnings of each individual program. As the director for both the Main Street Village and Sundale Arms programs, Courtney Situ of Mission High School coordinates with apartment managers and recreational directors to create fun and engaging activities and curriculum for children attending the program. She describes the experience of being a program director as something that she will remember for years to come: “Every session brings a memorable experience, whether it’s kids chasing each other with water balloons or fellow volunteers playing beanboozled,” says Situ, “I love working with the creative volunteers and energetic kids.” 

The student volunteers also have fond memories of the time they spend teaching with RYA. “It’s really rewarding because you’re making a difference and enjoying yourself in the process,” says one volunteer. “The kids can be really active at times, so we have to get creative with how we make them settle down and do their math problems.” However, the volunteers at the programs do more than just teach math; they organize cultural days, movie nights, and other activities for the children involved with the program. For example, at one program in Main Street Village, students were able to make origami, try on kimonos, and sample tiny red bean cakes on Japanese cultural day.

Though it is a local organization, the impact that volunteers at Rising Youth have on the lives of the children they teach is by no means small. The hard work and dedication of the volunteers has made a huge difference in some of these childrens’ lives. Despite the fact that children can be difficult to work with, or that planning out lessons can be time consuming, the volunteers stay committed to their mission of providing education to those who may not always have access to it.