BranchOut! 2021 FAQ
What Programs do we Offer?
Innovator: Working in teams with programming, curriculum design, and marketing specialties, students will prototype solutions for real world problems. This may include designing an app, creating a website, or other creative ventures. Students do not need prior coding experience to join. Do note that Innovator is a year-round remote project with work required during the 2021-22 school year.
Community Role Models: To promote the importance of celebrating other people’s success, students will write weekly, short articles about the unsung heroes of our society. They will interview them virtually and write a story about their success and future goals. We will share these stories on our social media platforms and on our website.
Career Panels: Students with similar interests will gather together to plan a career panel for fellow students and adults. They will invite professionals in a field of their choice to discuss career paths, goals, and the future of their professions. We will share these stories on our social media platforms and on our website.
Social Research: Students will join together to create a research paper on a current issue related to race, culture, and society with regards to specific communities. The end product would be a professional research paper to submit to conferences and journals. 2020 Project topic: Impacts of COVID-19 economic hardships on the anxiety and depression patterns of the U.S. labor force participation pool. Students can choose to expand upon this topic and/or research new topics during the 2021 program.
Online Tutoring: Individual students will be paired with mentees to assist in any school subject the mentee needs help in. Students will mentor online through services such as Zoom and Google Hangouts, all of which will be individually arranged once pairs are made. NOTE: due to the previous uncertainties, students who choose this option are not all guaranteed to be matched with a mentee.
At BranchOut!, mentoring is defined as something much broader - it is not just about tutoring; it is about supporting and helping others grow as not only an individual but a community. Our new projects reflect our definition of “mentoring,” and we hope to meet (virtually) our mentors this upcoming summer! More information about each of our summer programs is on our website.
Summer Volunteer Program
Will BranchOut! be virtual, in-person, or hybrid this year?
BranchOut! will be virtual this year. In person or hybrid plans may be arranged at a future date in accordance with VA and CDC health guidelines.
What are the summer programs being offered this year?
We currently have 5 summer programs for mentors to join since we cannot mentor in person. We will send out a google form for mentors to rank which program they are most interested in.
May I switch the weeks I signed up for in case scheduling conflicts occur?
We will send out another form in May/June to confirm each mentor’s final schedule. Therefore, mentors will have time then to make the switch. There is no change after that and any changes can result in losing the deposit. Please note, mentors can add more weeks, but will not be able to shift or reduce the number of weeks/days that they originally signed up for. If it is a health related emergency, then student mentors should submit the doctor’s note to the team to help the team determine the situation.
Is it possible to spend more time than my committed weeks?
See answer to the above question.
What subjects do tutors teach?
Predominantly STEM, but languages and the arts are also applicable.
Where is the volunteer location? Who is responsible for the transportation?
Students are responsible for their own transportation. Previous volunteer locations include community centers, high schools, and homeless shelters in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. However, no transportation is needed for BranchOut! 2021 since activities will be virtual.
Can lunch be purchased on the site or has to be self prepared?
Students prepare their own lunch or purchase lunch on site. Since the program is virtual this year, students will be responsible for their own lunch.
What is the daily time schedule for the participating weeks?
Our virtual programs last year all had one shift from 9AM-12PM each day. We expect that our program this year will fall along similar lines. Mentors should plan accordingly to ensure they can fully dedicate to each shift for the week(s) they sign up for.
Outside of tutoring and the student management team, what does the BranchOut program also entail?
BranchOut! offers a wide range of outreach opportunities and community events in addition to tutoring. For an overview of our program last summer and past events, please view the "2020 programs" and "News & Events" subpages on our website: https://www.velbranchout.org/. We also hold an annual end-of-summer celebration event for all BranchOut! mentors to recognize their achievements and recap our work.
How many weeks should mentors sign up for?
All mentors are expected to dedicate at least one week of their summer to the program. However, two weeks are recommended for the optimum experience.
What is the purpose of the $150 earnest deposit?
Due to the nature of the position, we expect the Student Mentor to take this position seriously by fulfilling the work assigned and showing up to the position on time. As a result, an earnest deposit of $150 is required when the applicant accepts and confirms participation in the Program.
How is the earnest deposit refunded?
The deposit will be refunded (minus any PayPal service fee if any) after the Student Mentor has successfully completed their committed portion of the Program and submitted the deposit return form. In other words, mentors should fully attend all weeks they sign up for. Any absence from any part or whole of the committed period shall cause forfeit of all of the earnest deposit. The deposit refund request form will be sent in August 2021, and all the refund process will be done by late September.
What does completing the committed portion of the program mean?
Completing the committed portion of the program means fulfilling the specified number of weeks indicated by the mentor. Another google form will be sent in May/June to confirm each mentor’s final schedule. If the mentor does not complete all the weeks they signed up for, the earnest deposit will not be refunded.
Do I need to submit both applications to be considered for the Student Management team?
Prospective summer management team applicants should submit the 2021 BranchOut! Summer Youth Community Program Application and indicate their management interests there.
What does the Student Management team mean? What kind of person can be an ideal candidate to join this team?
The Student Management team is an overarching leadership team that is responsible for the operations and publicity of BranchOut!. Each team has officers and one to two directors. For a full list of management subteams, please refer to our application. In general, a leadership candidate should demonstrate strong proactivity, communication, and team skills.
If you are in the student management team, do you also still tutor?
Student management team members also tutor.
I applied to the Student Management team but have not gotten a response. What do I do?
We will be choosing leadership candidates in May/June. Final candidates will be invited to present their qualifications during the 2021 summer training day. Please continue to check your email for more information on the management team selection process.
Is all time involved in the BranchOut program counted as Student Service Learning (SSL) hours?
Students will receive service hours based on the program shifts or sessions they sign up for during the summer and/or school year. Hours outside shifts, including management meetings or team building activities, will not be given.
Who can I contact to verify my SSL hours?
Mentors may list Dr. Yuhsien Wu (email: email@example.com) as their SSL verification contact.
How should I send in my hours if I need them signed digitally?
Please send your hours form in PDF format to firstname.lastname@example.org, the email subject line should include your name as well as the word “verification” so that it can be classified as an hours request.
How should I group my hours for submission?
Please submit your hours by lump sum if possible once you have finished all of your commitments for BranchOut!. If absolutely necessary, you may split hours up to be approved separately by week.
When should I submit hours for verification?
You may submit hours as soon as the deposit refund form is sent out in August. Please try to get hours approved as quickly as possible as verification requests will be checked less and less as we move farther from our Summer session.