National Forum Affiliate Reflects on Her Work in Brightmoor

Raquel Welch-Johnson at Book Donation Event in Detroit

Over the past couple years, the National Forum has partnered with leaders of the Brightmoor community, a neighborhood in the northwest region of Detroit, to promote and establish a college access network for Brightmoor youth and adults.  Assisting in this task is Raquel K. Welch-Johnson, an AmeriCorps member within the Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps (MMCCC).  AmeriCorps members work within institutions of higher education in order to create “college-going” cultures within their local communities.  They train college students to be College Positive Volunteers, create community collaborations to raise awareness of postsecondary education, and implement college-focused activities within communities.  I caught up with Raquel to hear all her own experience working with the Brightmoor community, as well as the National Forum.  Below is a recap of what she had to say:

How are your connected to the National Forum?

I am a Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps and AmeriCorps member.  The National Forum supports my work for the Brightmoor Alliance, so I can continue to assist them in promoting a college access network.

How long have you been involved with National Forum?

I have worked with the National Forum since September, 2011.

What is your specific placement in the Brightmoor neighborhood?

My physical worksite is Detroit Community High School, where I work to encourage and create an environment that promotes postsecondary education.

What are the core competencies, skills, and principles that you realized you needed to acquire to be an effective worker for the Brightmoor Alliance?

I think a person in this position needs patience and diplomacy.  Also, multi-tasking abilities are a must!  My experience with non-profit work has been extremely beneficial, and I believe that I have the skills to assist the Brightmoor Alliance in its community endeavors.

What kind of influence do your social work background, culture, and Brightmoor community beliefs have on your motivation to assist the National Forum?

I firmly believe that continuous education through accessibility is key in urban settings.  My previous volunteer activities working with youth have shown me that students have the desire to go to college, but do not know the process, the “way” to “get” to college.  The National Forum’s work to remove all barriers for today’s youth to reach this goal is in alignment with my own personal beliefs.

What are the challenges of working with Brightmoor and the National Forum?

The challenges I face are maintaining my connection to the National Forum, while working daily at the site.  I need to be able to meet the goals of the National Forum, Brightmoor Alliance, AmeriCorps and Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps.  It is a very tough spot!

What kind of effect do you think that the Brightmoor Alliance’s involvement with the National Forum has on improving the Brightmoor Community?

The National Forum can provide the Brightmoor Alliance with support and guidance through Brightmoor’s growing pains.  It can provide Brightmoor with Master’s and Ph.D. students to assist with technical projects by providing statistical information that will enhance the marketability of the Brightmoor Alliance to its community partners and customers.  In addition, the National Forum can make joint efforts on events to sustain its continued relationship with the Brightmoor Alliance.

Why do you think that receiving support from the National Forum is beneficial to the Brightmoor Alliance?

The National Forum provides the Brightmoor Alliance with more credibility, major support, and guidance as Brightmoor grows.  It is beneficial to maintain joint efforts.

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