A Vital Exchange. As Founder and President Cate Edwards has said: "when kids engage with their community and the community engages with those kids, a vital exchange can happen. We need to show people that the door opens both ways." To facilitate a swinging-door approach, the Program brings Fellows into contact with their communities through public service projects.
Finding the Need. Each year, Fellows are required to identify a problem within their community that they believe needs to be addressed. They then work in concert with one another and their Elizabeth Mentors to design a creative service project that addresses that problem. With the help of program staff and volunteers, the Fellows implement their public service project, seeing the benefit of their work within the community.
Learning to Give Back. The projects use each Fellow's unique talents to enrich their community, empowering them to effectuate change close to home. The projects help Fellows value the importance of giving back through public service. Fellows understand that they are not only recipients of these services, but that they also have something to offer their communities.
Reflecting on Service. The Elizabeth Fellows also keep a blog on the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation website where they reflect on the service projects. Their reflections both chronicle the life of their projects and ignite conversation about needs within their communities. By creating this forum, we hope to both engage communities in the Fellows' development and enhance the Fellows’ ability to effectively identify where their service is needed most.