When 15-year-old Manual Arts High School student Chennel Green started this competition, she was receiving D's and F's in her classes. She and roughly three-quarters of her peers were deemed by the California Department of Education as performing "far below basic" or "below basic" in math and language arts on a standardized state test.
This evening, Green and her team face another motivated team of South Los Angeles students in the Thinkfinity Bowl Championship at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center at 4718 W. Washington Blvd. The event is open to the public, starting with a 5 p.m. reception.
The Thinkfinity Bowl Championship is the culmination of a 16-week academic competition for upper elementary, middle and high school youth in South Los Angeles. A coalition of local community organizations, including Brotherhood Crusade, the EXPO Center and the African American Unity Center, is behind the program. Funding is provided through a $75,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon.
Organizations fielding teams in the Thinkfinity Bowl League include the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks EXPO Center; the Young Center for Academic and Cultural Enrichment; Horace Mann Junior High School; A-MAN (African American Male Achievers Network and International Science Discovery and Learning Center); African American Unity Center Supplemental Educational Services program, and Brotherhood Crusade Gang Reduction and Youth Development Program. Collectively, the teams represent various middle and high schools in South Los Angeles, including Foshay Middle School, Obama Middle School, Audubon Middle School, Frederick Douglas High School, Manual Arts High School, Jordan High School, Fremont High School, Inglewood High School, and Horace Mann Junior High School.
The Thinkfinity Bowl combines a traditional college bowl format with team debate. College bowl teams consist of two opposing teams of five players each. These teams are asked questions about math, science, technology, history, English language, arts, music, sports and entertainment, with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). In team debate, two teams of four players each debate a specific topic selected from a short list of topics. One team argues in favor of a topic sentence, while the other team opposes it.
"In addition to providing the fun and excitement of competition, the Thinkfinity Bowl challenges our youth to be the best that they can be in every aspect of life," said Charisse Bremond, executive director of the African American Unity Center. "This community partnership with Verizon is allowing our youth to develop skills that will serve them well for life and create lasting relationships with positive, success-motivated peers."
Verizon's online educational tool, Thinkfinity.org, is the source of all subject matter content for the competition. Thinkfinity.org provides thousands of free educational resources to teachers, parents and students to use in and out of the classroom. Teams in the competition use the website's resources for study and practice.
Tim McCallion, Verizon's West region president, said, "Providing children with technologically based educational tools such as Thinkfinity and the Thinkfinity Bowl program has long been a core pillar of the Verizon Foundation. Such investment in these youth will reap great returns for their future and our community."
Manual Arts High School student Chennel Green said, "This competition has given me the confidence to dream big and has made learning fun." And it's paying off: Green made honor roll recently.
About African American Unity Center
The African American Unity Center is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1991 to provide social and human service programs to South Los Angeles residents.
About Brotherhood Crusade
The Brotherhood Crusade is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution founded in 1968 to provide necessary resources, program services and a voice of advocacy to traditionally underserved communities. Their mission is to remove and/or help individuals overcome the barriers that deter their pursuit of success and facilitate opportunities for a better quality of life, by promoting health and wellness, enhancing educational opportunities, cultivating economic growth and building community agencies and institutions.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.