White Star Foundation has been supporting not-for-profit initiatives helping children facing adversity since 2007. To date, four of these initiatives have been established successfully as independent, not-for-profit foundations operating in Poland. All are members of The White Star Foundation Group.
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Poland is to help children facing adversity reach their potential through professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better.
The impact that mentoring makes in a child’s life has been documented through independent research. Some of the most significant outcomes for children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs include:
- Academic improvements
- Positive socio-emotional outcomes
- Positive behavioral outcomes
- Reduced tendency to start using alcohol or drugs
- Reduced tendency to skip class and improve school attendance
- Belief in themselves because a mentor believed in them
The research also found that the children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program were more confident of their performance in schoolwork and got along better with their families. The results were attributed, in part, to the fact that Big Brothers Big Sisters matches consistently spent more time together, and continued as a match for longer periods, than those in other mentoring programs. The study also showed that in mentoring programs without the BBBS infrastructure, the relationships evaporate too soon for effects to be possible.
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Big Brothers Big Sisters was established in New York City in 1904. Since then, it has provided over 3 million children with professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships. Currently, there are more than 250,000 active matches in the United States and over 30,000 matches internationally. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Poland is an affiliate agency within Big Brothers Big Sisters International and a foundation within the White Star Foundation group in Poland.
Our services focus on providing quality support to mentors and children who are matched in one-to-one mentoring relationships. A mentor is an adult who volunteers to spend time on a regular basis with a child facing adversity. A child facing adversity could be a child from a single parent family with no or few extended family members in their lives, a child without parents living or involved or simply a child who faces negative peer pressure and would benefit from another role model in his/her life. These children usually have limited access to adults with whom they can speak about their challenges, fears and dreams.
For more information visit www.bbbspoland.org
The importance of raising technologically literate children who can meet the demands of the 21st century is a conversation that is taking place in every country around the globe. While there have been extensive developments in teaching science, technology and mathematics, the engineering component of STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art&Design, and Mathematics) has received less attention, especially in the lower grades.
Research shows that both children and teachers in the elementary grades do not fully understand engineering or the innumerable and exciting ways engineers improve our lives. According to a report by the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the challenge is not just that some students are unprepared, but that many of our most proficient students are completely uninterested in STEAM studies and have been gravitating away from science and engineering towards other careers.
The mission of Katalyst Engineering is to capture the imagination of elementary school children and build interest in engineering by providing a fully-supported, collaborative and innovative hands-on engineering curriculum designed just for them.
“There is evidence that children begin ruling out career options as early as the 5th grade and the most significant and influential stages where children begin to consider what types of careers are possible for them also occur at the primary grade levels. This creates a small, vital window of time in which to integrate engineering into the list of potential careers that young learners are entertaining. It is essential that elementary and middle school students have exposure to authentic, meaningful engineering opportunities before they prematurely foreclose engineering as “not for me”.”
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Katalyst Engineering takes advantage of this ‘window of time’ through the implementation of the “Gotta Get Engineering” program in elementary schools across Poland. The program provides elementary schools with a fully-supported, free and open engineering curriculum that uses 3D printers and kids engineering sets to integrate engineering design and 3D printing technology with core academic knowledge in science, math, IT, technology and art.
For more information visit www.katalystengineering.org
The Mission of Katalyst Education is, based on the principles of Open Educational Resources, to facilitate a level playing field for all students in Poland by developing digital education tools and providing services to enable their optimal use.
Our interest in leveling the education playing field started in 2012 with the kindergarten through high school grades (K-12), when we learned of a problem disadvantaged families often faced. The schools required parents to purchase most of the books for their children, and as the textbooks were expensive, disadvantaged families struggled to purchase them.
Additionally, most K-12 books were published with the exercises and tests in the book such that the books could be used only once. This limited the potential for passing the books along for use by children coming into the next grade. So, children from the neediest families were also deprived of the option to use hand-me-down books.
Since then, the situation has improved significantly. In 2014, the Ministry of Education introduced open digital textbooks for grades K-12, vowed to provide free printed textbooks, and forced publishers to provide textbooks and exercises separately in order to make the textbooks reusable.
However, there still remains another big educational issue affecting less affluent families that might not be easily solved by the government. As many as one in two Polish K-12 students uses paid, private tutoring to keep up with the curriculum. It might indicate that many of the families which do not use tutoring do so because they just cannot afford it, leaving their children at a disadvantage.
Moreover, there are other circumstances where students could benefit by repeated exposure to educational materials at times and at a pace of their own choosing. We believe this might be ameliorated with the help of digital technology.
In general, digital technology offers many opportunities for low-cost delivery of high-quality educational tools and curricula. After conducting extensive market research, Katalyst Education identified more than a dozen opportunities where digital tools could make a marked impact on achieving a level educational playing field. Katalyst Education is currently engaged in realizing a number of these opportunities.
Pi-Stacja is a repository of short educational videos that will eventually cover and be strictly aligned to the entire Polish K-12 curriculum. We are planning to create video lessons for approximately ten thousand topics across sixteen core subjects, in order to provide students with free high-quality educational materials which can be used whenever or wherever they want them.
The Career Map presents information about the types of knowledge required for particular professions in a form that is attractive to young users. The goal of the project is to encourage students to learn by helping them envision their future and the paths that can be taken to get there.
CNX/OPENSTAX is an open academic textbook repository, with an innovative feature allowing users to adapt the textbooks to their needs. The platform will contain free, high-quality university textbooks. The project is developed in cooperation with academic centers in Poland and Rice University in Houston, U.S.
For more information visit www.katalysteducation.org