Keep It Real:
Keep It Real (KIR) is a student-run volunteer organization at the University of Pittsburgh that provides personal in-home, after-school tutoring, and mentoring for the Somali-Bantu refugee population in Pittsburgh. Founded in 2004, KIR is comprised of nearly 100 student-tutors and serves approximately 35-40 families located in Lawrenceville, the Northside, Northview Heights, the Hill District, Sharpsburg, and the West End. The bonds formed between tutors and their families allow for the development of close relationships that involve mentoring students for college and career preparedness, assistance with assimilation, and introducing American cultural traditions to the families like trick-or-treating and popular culture. While we strive to introduce families to new culture, tutors also undertake efforts to help the families retain their own culture, traditions, and languages.
Tutors realized that the few hours they spent with school-age refugee youth on homework help does not do enough to prevent regression and summer learning loss during the summer months when tutors are less available and students are away form their classrooms. Due to the unique pasts of the students, it was decided a space is needed where students build confidence through creative expression that will allow academic success and career preparedness. KIR in conjunction with FORGE, a student-run organization that advocates for more assistance to refugee families affected by humanitarian crisis worldwide, helped to initiate the creation of the PRYSE Academy.
The PRYSE Academy
Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment (PRYSE) Academy was created in 2013 by a group of undergraduates from the University of Pittsburgh who tutor refugee youth in Pittsburgh through student-led public service organizations. Many of the refugee students they tutor are constantly juggling responsibilities given to them by their communities, jobs, and schools. The goal of PRYSE was to create a space where refugee youth could celebrate their identities, talk about their unique challenges, and work toward their academic and career goals FREE OF CHARGE.
PRYSE 2015 will be the 3rd session! Since its inception, it has been led by a coalition of refugee leaders in Pittsburgh and students from Pitt and Carnegie Mellon who have worked together to serve over 40 campers from the Iraqi, Bhutanese, Somali Bantu, Uzbeki, and Congolese communities. PRYSE will only be able to achieve its goals if it is able to build on its successes and grow to accommodate an increased number of campers from year to year.
With your donation, PRYSE Academy students will continue to be offered a free and extensive academic and creative expression curriculum that is developed to prepare them to graduate from high school and excel in their professional careers. There are various costs of running a successful summer program: food, transportation, supplies, speakers, workshop leaders, and field trips are a few examples of what campers need. Your investment in PRYSE will ensure that we can continue to provide free and worthwhile summer opportunities that support refugee youth to actualize their potential.