Swarthmore Student Organization Goes National
by Stacey Kutish
NOLArize!, a Swarthmore College student organization that is dedicated to helping the effort to rebuild New Orleans, has made their mark on the city they aim to serve and are going national, starting chapters across the country. Interested college students can meet members of the organization in New Orleans at the national V-Day event to be held April 11-12, 2008 at the Superdome, where they will officially launch their national campaign. Upon request, NOLArize! will provide a membership kit, which includes information about organizing on a college campus, publicizing events, planning effective meetings, events and fundraisers, and advice about planning projects in New Orleans. An additional resource available through NOLArize! is a directory of community contacts in the New Orleans area for planning future projects.
In preparation for its ambitious plans to expand chapters on college campuses across the country, NOLARize! has built relationships with community organizers in New Orleans, made connections with colleges in New Orleans, and established a vital community on the Swarthmore campus that is dedicated to helping New Orleans recover. The group is issuing a public call for like-minded students to start chapters on other college campuses. NOLArize! seeks to network with both college students who have already been doing work in New Orleans as well as those who are new to efforts in New Orleans but have an expressed interest in initiating a project. By tapping into NOLArize!, student organizations will gain access to the NOLArize! network in New Orleans. Participating groups will also benefit from learning about NOLArize's power to influence the Swarthmore campus, from fundraising initiatives that worked, to learning how to incorporate New Orleans themed topics into the academic curriculum. Finally, chapters will gain the support of a campus community at-large dedicated to working towards the vision of New Orleans rising again.
To date, NOLArize! has successfully established a youth library in the Cut-Off section of Algiers, a neighborhood in New Orleans, with financial support from Swarthmore College's Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. They have also galvanized the Swarthmore College community by organizing work trips to New Orleans over College breaks and sponsoring the first New Orleans week on campus, which featured lectures by community activists from New Orleans, screenings of local New Orleans documentaries, a benefit concert and a campus-wide New Orleans themed dinner. Nolarize! is nearing completion of their latest initiative, creating a community computer lab at the Cutoff Community Center.