Tag Archives: Represent

Summer REPRESENT Term Comes to an End



The REPRESENT Class photo!

Seeking their Higher Purpose, the REPRESENT summer class completes its 8-week program today, July 28th, in literacy, visual symbology, personal finances, and job success.

While each of the five students will continue their studies in August at MCC-Penn Valley community college, their career goals vary widely:

Daniel’s plans include studying nutrition at Penn Valley and earning a personal training certificate.

Damika aims to become a registered nurse helping Alzheimer’s patients.

DeVonte, who will first complete the HiSET program, is interested in studying acting and wrestling.

Susannah plans to study voice and theatre at UMKC after completing her Associate Degree at Penn Valley.

Vyolla’s goal is to transfer to Stephens College after Penn Valley to study fashion design.

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Mentors, Coaches & Students relaxing on the last day of class with a pizza party.

Each REPRESENT student will meet with individual mentors on a regular basis as they undertake their next chapter in reaching their dreams.

As is his tradition, Instructor Phil Denver taught from the following poem, which never fails to arouse empathy:

Dreams By Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

We wish these five Star Students the very best success in achieving their dreams! To learn more, visit literacykc.org or call (816)333-9332.

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REPRESENT’s First Cohort of Student-Interns Takes Flight!


We celebrate our REPRESENT trailblazers: Chauncey, Nicodemas, Dustin, Richard, Quasim, Mynikka, Jaime, Crystal, and Nadia.

Nine student-interns completed the first term of Literacy KC’s young adults’ workshop, REPRESENT, on April 27th! They celebrated their final class with Literacy KC Instructor Phil Denver, Program Coordinator Anne Gatschet, and four volunteer tutor/coaches.  Their journey in this new career readiness and literacy program for young adults ages 16-24 continues, however, with dedicated mentors guiding them throughout the year toward individual dreams and professional goals.

REPRESENT’s first cohort spent 12 weeks writing, reading, speaking and creating in the key areas of identity, career and finance. By the end of the workshop, students had served as marketing consultants to young adults for leaders at Literacy KC and at the Nelson-Atkins Museum. They created a series of tapestries using self-made block print symbols and original poetry on fabric (see photo below).


REPRESENT Student-Intern Nadia holding the tapestry she created.

Students gave numerous oral presentations, read, and composed texts about workforce soft skills, and took personality inventories. They enjoyed round-table discussions with Kansas City civic leaders. They leave the program with a professional dossier including a resume, personal statement, and a letter of recommendation.

On the final class day, Mr. Denver asked each student-intern to write a statement about what he or she valued most from REPRESENT. Following the writing session, each shared aloud these heartfelt comments:

“The class reminded me how much I really love to read.” – Nadia

“I enjoyed meeting new people. Everyone was friendly, nice and respectful.” – Dustin

“REPRESENT helped me become a better reader and person. It’s helping me to achieve what I most want in life.” – Crystal

“I now have a resume and a letter of recommendation to find my first job.” – Nicodemas

“I learned a lot about myself. My reading, writing and speech has spiked up.” – Richard

“I really improved my reading and writing skills these past 12 weeks.” – Quasim

“I learned many different skills about being confident and not being afraid of asking a question. I’m understanding more about many new topics.” – Jaime

“I enjoyed the speakers who came in to talk to us. The class helped a lot with my reading, writing and comprehension.” – Mynikka

“I learned that everyone at Literacy KC enjoys their day because they are doing something they believe in.” – Chauncey

The next cohort of REPRESENT student-interns is now enrolling for the Term 2 class, beginning May 31st. Each of the first nine will be ready to help!






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New Represent Program Launches 15 Student-Interns Toward Success

“The past is important because it makes me learn.” “The future is about trying to be successful.” “The present is here and I’m going to live it!”

These were thoughts voiced by three of the 15 dynamic, ambitious student-interns in the first cohort of Literacy KC’s new Represent program. The innovative curriculum, which began February 8, was designed by Instructor Phil Denver, Program Development Coordinator Anne Gatschet, and Volunteer Coordinator Kate Brown, to build academic reading and writing skills, career readiness, and confidence in students, ages 16-24.  Represent meets every Monday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Classes are assisted by five volunteer tutor/coaches, formerly with GEARS and/or Ticket to Read.

“Who would play you in a movie about your life?”


Represent student-intern groups are joined by five volunteer tutor/coaches.

“Ice-breaker” questions like this were posed for team discussion in the first days of class.  Student-Intern Karahn English responded quickly to this one — Will Smith! Indeed, the outgoing, smart actor is a fitting role model for 16 year old Karahn, one of the first students to enroll in Represent. Karahn was recruited by his enthusiastic cousin Khalif Jones, whose brother Nicodemas Jones has also joined. All attended the Urban Community Leadership Academy, a Kansas City charter middle school forced to close in 2012 due to financial difficulties. The three young men attended a couple of different high schools but adjusting proved challenging.

All three are eager to move forward with their education and work goals. Karahn, whom Phil named “benevolent” in a reading context exercise, is interested in cars and cooking. Nicodemas, whom Phil called “buoyant”, has been interested in technology and construction since a fourth grade metalworking and electrical class. He also loves growing flowers. “Resolute” Khalif is headed for the law profession.


Represent Instructor Phil Denver is a walking display of creative ideas from the student-interns about how to improve the classroom atmosphere.

All students will be matched with mentors compatible with their career interests. Literacy KC is recruiting mentors now. They will be introduced to the class the week of March 7 and will begin meeting with students once a week for the remainder of the workshop. The mentorship continues with bi-monthly career guidance meetings for a year. Represent will hold dinners through January 2017 for students and mentors to network and socialize. Civic leaders and professionals from diverse backgrounds will make guest appearances in Represent workshops, and give students opportunities for dialogue. Outings to professional and cultural sites are planned around the city.

Part of the Represent workshop is an internship. Students are given assignments that will assist the staff of Literacy KC and other area service agencies. To this end, each cohort of Represent serves on a Young Adults Council, bringing the cultural knowledge of their age group to the planning table to help answer questions about marketing, programming, and recruitment of Kansas City young adults. Student-interns will be paid a stipend of $500 upon completion of the workshop. This offers students the opportunity to earn a letter of recommendation and practice communication skills on the job.


From left: Represent Student-Interns: Khalif Jones, Nicodemas Jones and Karahn English.

While civic awareness and workforce readiness are the basic themes of Represent, the core practice is literacy. All student-interns must complete 22 hours of Reading Plus outside of class before the 12 week workshop ends on April 27. Students also will write and complete a personal dossier, including a life philosophy statement, resume, cover letter, personality profile, and various writing assignments. The final weeks of the course focus on the financial literacy.

Represent partners with another local workforce readiness program, Culinary Cornerstones, to bring students fresh, healthful breakfast and hot lunch on each class day.  Culinary Cornerstones is a training program in cooking skills developed by Episcopal Community Services. In signature synergistic and community-oriented style, Literacy KC and this innovative culinary program have coordinated an impressive partnership. Huge thanks to Culinary Cornerstones for donating and delivering all meals to Represent.

A second Represent workshop for cohort 2 will begin in June at the same time as Term 2 of Ticket to Read begins.

“If other animals could talk to us, what would they say?”

Nicodemas knew what a bird would say: “I’m ready to fly!”


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