Student center gets Ford grant
By JUDSON BRANAM
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Ann Arbor’s Student Advocacy Center, one of 16 agencies nationwide working to push student equity issues to the top of the nation’s school agenda, will receive $22,000 this year as part of a $1 million Ford Foundation grant.
The national project, called Mobilization for Equity, helps local Juvenile Court workers learn advocacy skills, and advocates will work to avoid school disruptions for students involved in court cases.
The Ford Foundation recently supplied the $1-million grant to fund the first year of the program for the National Coalition of Advocates for Students, which includes the 20-year-old Student Advocacy Center in Ann Arbor.
The local program is headed by longtime Student Advocacy Center board member Margaret Harner.
“It’s a major initiative on the part of Ford,” said SAC Director Ruth Zweifler. “We’re linked into something larger than us.”
The court provided an office and telephone line, and Harner will work to educate court workers on the best ways to provide advocacy services in difficult cases.
The results of the local work will be reported out to the NCAS for inclusion in the national data, Zweifler said.
“There is a tremendous need for advocates - it’s almost unmeetable,” she added. “One of the things we’re trying to do is extend knowledge of advocacy to others who work with children.”
The NCAS said its projects will be aimed at students who have been left out of recent school reforms, including the poor, minorities, handicapped and language-minority groups.
“By helping parents and community groups define their children’s learning needs and focus on students’ rights to effective schooling, the project seeks to improve learning for those most vulnerable to school failure,” NCAS said in a statement.