VOLCON: A New Tool to Increase Volunteers at Community Schools

Volunteering in Knox County schools is currently very difficult due to security concerns and a lack of overall coordination between the volunteers and local schools. The VOLunteer COmmunity Network (VOLCON) is a virtual space, currently under development, that is specifically designed to address these problems and will facilitate volunteer-educator connections. The initial focus of VOLCON would be to coordinate with the Knox County’s Community Schools Initiative (KCCSI) and the University of Tennessee (UT). The KCCSI was selected because of the program’s concentration on high risk communities and willingness to participate. The KCCSI facilitates the establishment of public schools as a hub for organizing community programs to improve neighborhood well-being and student academic success. This strategic approach has had enormous success in increasing student test scores and overall retention, and in order to expand upon their success the KCCSI needs to attract more volunteers and develop long-term formal relationships.  The University of Tennessee is the initial source of volunteers in VOLCON because of the university’s current involvement in two KCCSI participant schools, Pond Gap Elementary and Inskip Elementary, as well as a significant student body interest to volunteer with Knox County schools, as UT students encounter difficulties when attempting to volunteer because there is not a ready path for them to interact with the KCCSI.

VOLCON will overcome this hurdle by allowing potential volunteers to post both their availability and interests along with their expertise, grade level accommodation and previous volunteer experience to a web page that teachers, resource coordinators, and KCCSI administrators can then use to search for and directly contact potential volunteers. This will remove current barriers by establishing a direct path between KCCSI students and UT volunteers. As the project continues, the pool of schools and the network of volunteers encompassed in VOLCON will expand to represent all interested parties. 

If you would like more information about this project and future advocacy please contact Guinevere Shaw at gshaw2@vols.utk.edu

Guin et al

The VOLCON Team (left to right): Guinevere Shaw, Mark Christian, Kaitlyn McNabney, and Michael Ashworth

Contributor:  Guinevere Shaw

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