A Message From Our Board President
by Mike Ivey
Like many of you, I am a longtime
supporter of Simpson Street Free Press. And like so many Friends of
SSFP, I am proud of what we accomplish. We deliver award-winning
academic programs that meet and exceed professional standards for
excellence. SSFP curriculum directly addresses Dane County’s most
glaring disparity: unacceptable gaps in student achievement.
SSFP began publishing in 1992. In those
early days it was 15 kids and a few sharp pencils in the back room at
Broadway-Simpson Neighborhood Center. SSFP is still based here. But
today's SSFP student reporters come from all over Dane County.
Currently, our students represent 7 high schools, 9 middle schools,
and 4 elementary schools. There are waiting lists at all five SSFP
publications. Our book clubs and online book discussions allow
wait-listed students to get started with SSFP. We work with teachers
and schools, UW-Madison Cooperative Children’s Book Center, and
with local libraries.
At SSFP the term ‘literacy’ does
not mean exclusively reading and writing. In the 21st century
literacy connotes an intense knowledge of any particular field of
interest. Students who learn financial literacy manage savings and
plan for college. Young people who study science and math are STEM
literate. SSFP develops literacy-based curriculum. Our approach is
integrated, core subject curriculum deftly applied in after-school
settings. The National Partnership for Quality After-school Learning
says, “Writing and literacy are areas where out-of-school programs
can have the most impact.” The President’s Committee for the Arts
and Humanities says SSFP “is pioneering new and innovative ways to
apply integrated curriculum in after-school settings.” SSFP
students use writing and media to engage and encourage peers. In the
process they become successful, college-bound students.
Years of steady growth demonstrate
stability and scalability. SSFP uses the term "multi-mission"
to explain our approach to academics. For us writing and literacy are
portals – practical tools that lead to better school performance.
As our name suggests, journalism is a great way to foster curious
young people. We also publish newspapers. So, we accomplish multiple
goals. SSFP students inspire their peers. Their published work is
SSFP-style methods are spreading. We
are expanding and taking on as many students as we can. Nationally,
new research demonstrates them powerful affect of high-quality
literacy training applied during out-of-school time. Jim Kramer and
his parent/teacher advisory committee continue to develop
award-winning curriculum. Jim has assembled a dedicated team. Because
SSFP hires its own graduates as teachers and editors, we grow our own
(very skilled) after-school instructors. They work in the
neighborhoods where they grew up, using lesson plans they've
mastered. Experienced volunteers provide robust assistance. All this
makes SSFP an incubator and laboratory. SSFP continues to be
Madison’s most effective professional pipeline for young people of
color. Our staff is nothing if not innovative. They continue to
pioneer methods that really do bridge achievement gaps. They operate
Dane County’s first full-time academic achievement youth center.
SSFP rarely asks for monetary support.
Although well known, and with ever-expanding readership, we remain a
relatively small organization. We don’t hold fundraisers or employ
a development department. All resources are deployed at the front
lines with students. All SSFP employees work directly with kids. So,
contributions through Friends of SSFP is crucial. We won’t send you
constant requests. Rather we ask that you maintain your membership in
our Friends group. Read our publications and encourage young people
to read. You can donate online or send a donation through the mail.
Together we will spark achievement in tangible, concrete ways.
Thank you for your support.