Left to right above: Danny Sharp (Representing Dothan Area Chamber) Maria Johnson (Dothan City Schools, Director of Curriculum), Danielle Simmons, Will Collins and Teresa Davis of Liberty Learning Foundation
Citizen Promise a Success, Grant Winners Announced
Thanks to a partnership between local organizations, 2,275 high schoolers participated in the first year rollout of The Citizen Promise Program. The program is public-private collaboration that provides students with real-life experience to complement academics and prepare them to be life, career and citizen-ready.
The students make a “Citizen Promise” to help impact the community. And that “promise” goes both ways: As an added incentive for meaningful program participation, up to ten $1,000 grants are awarded to seniors each year. These non-academic grants are sponsored by the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and are chosen from applicants based on their character and the community actions they document and submit to be considered for the grants.
The organizations announced today that two Dothan seniors, Danielle Simmons (who has overcome huge obstacles this year) and Jordyn Jones were chosen from more than 500 seniors to receive this year’s grants.
In addition to submitting a wonderful essay, past experience and required academic records, Danielle Simmons application was particularly impressive because of small actions she took that made a big difference. “She wrote and sent letters of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Liberty Learning Foundation’s Teresa Davis. “The gesture is timely, of course. But it’s also a perfect reminder that anyone can make an impact. It doesn’t take money or age or status to change someone else’s life for the better.”
Jordyn Jones’s application and powerful essay highlighted years of community engagement. Most recently, she assisted special needs students at the Peanut Festival’s Special Citizens Day.
“We see The Citizen Promise Program as a catalyst in the community,” says Liberty Learning Foundation CEO Patti Yancey. The Alabama-based nonprofit has been praised locally for the success of its elementary and middle school programs which focus on civics, character, financial literacy and career development. “We were thrilled to pilot the program here in Dothan,” she says. And we are beyond impressed at the level of engagement and support from the community, administrators, teachers and students.”
How the program works: The multi-grade model sets goals for engagement and rewards achievement. Students begin with a dive into founding documents of American history and their relevance today. Then, they are challenged to apply corresponding concepts to develop essential skills, to build character and to increase community involvement through Citizen Actions. Students will begin using the lessons they are learning to make real impacts in their community, starting now. Opportunities throughout the year will help inspire and educate the whole citizen by ensuring the comprehension of critical civic, character, historical and career / life knowledge.
“We’re so proud of the students this year,” says Davis. “And we’ve gotten to see, first hand, how Dothan businesses and leaders can work together to give students opportunities and help them navigate life after graduation.”