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Newly formed program to fund educational trips to Washington

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN — Civic engagement and public service are important to Chris Stanley.

The Martin Luther King Elementary School history teacher believes one way to spark that same interest in young people is exposure to the workings of government.

He has started a non-profit organization, Classroom 2 Capitol, to fund educational trips to Washington, D.C., for students in underserved communities. It’s a step to spur that interest.

“It feels as if our communities continue to fracture over political differences,” he said. “We are excited to create a program that will demonstrate the value of political office, and to show our scholars that they can make change through engaging these officials, or by working to become officials themselves. We hope to inspire these future leaders of our communities and help to build a knowledgeable, engaged citizenry.”

Stanley wants to start with YCSD students, with hopes to expand to include those in other urban Ohio schools.

During the 2019-20 school year, Stanley helped organize a D.C. trip for YCSD middle schoolers, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled it. He is planning a D.C. trip for students in spring 2022 in which students and their families won’t be burdened by the cost.

To cover two busloads of students and chaperones, lodging, meals, events and incidentals, it will cost about $50,000.

YCSD CEO Justin Jennings has secured $22,500 of that funding.

“This is a cause that’s close to my heart,” Jennings said. “I believe educating scholars about the workings of government up close is a great foundation for growing community-minded citizens. I applaud Mr. Stanley and Classroom 2 Capitol for this effort.”

The organization is seeking grants and donations to cover the other costs.

Another Classroom 2 Capitol function is to bring current and former elected officials into classrooms to speak to students. A summer camp adventure where students can participate in Model UN and Model Congress is also part of the organization’s plans.

Stanley serves as the executive director of Classroom 2 Capitol and the president of its board. Other board members include Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Carla Baldwin, Mahoning County Court Judge Joseph Schiavoni, the Rev. Dr. Lewis W. Macklin III of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, educators and other elected officials.

A news conference to announce details about the program is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday in the meeting room of Youngstown Rayen Early College High School, 20 W. Wood St.

Masks and social distancing will be required. Guests are asked to enter the side door of the building, from the Wood Street parking lot. Temperature checks will be conducted.

More information about the organization is available at classroom2capitol.org.

news@vindy.com

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