Urban Schools Initiative

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Booknerd
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Urban Schools Initiative

Post by Booknerd » July 15th, 2020, 3:01 pm

So I've been hearing a lot about an "Urban Schools Initiative". From what I could gather, it's a program by SOINC with the goal of reaching out to urban schools to have a more diverse community of competitors. I've read through the SOINC page on it (https://www.soinc.org/programs/urban-schools-initiative), but I'm still kind of confused.

What exactly does the urban schools initiative do? From my understanding, it provides some funds for disadvantaged schools, as well as providing an easier playing field for them. Is that it? Or is there more to it?

Has the urban schools initiative been successful? The SOINC page on the urban schools initiative showcases the early success of the program in CPS. But has it had the same positive impact on other districts/teams?

And is the urban schools initiative still impacting the scioly community today? Or is the program dying? This is my biggest question. It seems that the urban schools initiative was really successful in CPS way back then. But it's been ten years since then, and as a competitor in CPS, the urban schools initiative doesn't seem to be the same as it was before. CPS no longer has 35+ teams competing at the CPS regionals as it had when the initiative first started, and almost all of the schools that were from disadvantaged/low-income/diverse neighborhoods that started scioly through the urban schools initiative are now defunct teams. I've also never heard of my coaches mention anything about a "Build it, Learn it" day, which was a part of the initiative in 2010.

So is the initiative still as active and successful as it has been before? Or is the initiative slowly dying? If it is, is there anything that can be done to reach out to urban schools as it has in the past? maybe MY SO could be an opportunity to reach out to more urban schools?
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Re: Urban Schools Initiative

Post by pb5754 » July 15th, 2020, 4:44 pm

I believe either SOINC or PASO has had success with the program in Philadelphia. I don't really know in what ways they try to help them out, but there is a Philadelphia regional that is intended for these schools, so schools can compete at an easier regional competition (southeast PA regionals are probably one of the most competitive in the country), although with the caveat that they cannot qualify for the state tournament.
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Re: Urban Schools Initiative

Post by Booknerd » July 15th, 2020, 6:25 pm

pb5754 wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 4:44 pm
I believe either SOINC or PASO has had success with the program in Philadelphia. I don't really know in what ways they try to help them out, but there is a Philadelphia regional that is intended for these schools, so schools can compete at an easier regional competition (southeast PA regionals are probably one of the most competitive in the country), although with the caveat that they cannot qualify for the state tournament.
So Philadelphia schools get their own regional, but cannot qualify for state? Isn't that pretty much just isolating Philadelphia schools and handicapping them? Isn't it more of an invitational, rather than a regional? :? I feel like that's isolating urban schools and restricting their success by not giving them a chance at state.

EDIT: Oh wait, there's a wikipage about the urban schools tournament (https://scioly.org/wiki/index.php/South ... Tournament). So it used to be a regional, but was then changed into an invitational. Now the Philadelphia teams are placed back into the southeast PA regionals, directly up against PA powerhouse teams. I don't know if this makes it any better :|
Last edited by Booknerd on July 15th, 2020, 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Urban Schools Initiative

Post by EwwPhysics » July 15th, 2020, 6:56 pm

pb5754 wrote:
July 15th, 2020, 4:44 pm
I believe either SOINC or PASO has had success with the program in Philadelphia. I don't really know in what ways they try to help them out, but there is a Philadelphia regional that is intended for these schools, so schools can compete at an easier regional competition (southeast PA regionals are probably one of the most competitive in the country), although with the caveat that they cannot qualify for the state tournament.
I know that Bala Cynwyd participates in a sort of "build it, learn it" day that Booknerd mentioned (I believe I also saw some Harriton people there on that day helping with Divison C?). Basically, we're giving an overview of some events to new urban teams - I think we did around 10 events this year. It was pretty general stuff, mainly I think to get them interested.
I'm not really quite sure of the details of this event, I just sort of went to help but didn't pay too much attention to how teams get involved in it and stuff like that - I wish I'd paid more attention.
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Re: Urban Schools Initiative

Post by EastStroudsburg13 » July 15th, 2020, 7:28 pm

So, I'm not an expert on the PA urban initiative, I just helped at the Urban tournament for two years. But to answer some questions about the tournament in this thread (EwwPhysics explained the build it learn it day pretty well):

The reason that the Urban tournament never sent any teams to states was mainly because 1) not all events were run, and 2) there was not enough funding within the initiative to be able to fund a team's trip to states in full. These were goals of the program at one point, but it ultimately functioned best as a "developmental" tournament to prepare programs to compete in the full regionals. This is already seeing fruits, as the number of teams from Philadelphia that are competing in the regular regional structure has grown. This is why teams aren't "isolated", because they can elect which pathway they take.

It also bears mentioning that the powerhouse SEPA regional as it is commonly known is no longer. This past year, its C division split into a Southeast North and Southeast South, both with 5 bids to states, and Philadelphia teams assigned to Southeast North. So rather than competing against all of the SEPA powerhouses for medals and such, it's narrowed down to just a few. It's certainly an uphill battle, but it's more manageable.

Is it a perfect scenario? No, likely not, and there's still a lot of growth to be done. But it's certainly been an improvement over what was occurring before the Urban Initiative (essentially, minimal to no opportunities for Philadelphia teams to compete in a meaningful way).
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CookiePie1 (July 16th, 2020, 8:01 am) • EwwPhysics (July 16th, 2020, 9:43 am) • Booknerd (July 16th, 2020, 4:04 pm) • pb5754 (July 16th, 2020, 6:43 pm) • MadCow2357 (July 19th, 2020, 8:31 pm) • aarongandia (July 23rd, 2020, 9:18 pm)
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