Data Queen! Graph Guru! Amazing Amelia is 826michigan’s December Volunteer of the Month

December 10, 2021 | Volunteer of the Month

Amazing Amelia has been both a Program Intern and Research and Evaluations Intern for 826michigan since April. During this time she has  added so much to our organization that we’ve taken to calling her our Data Queen, and we’d like to celebrate her here! She is thorough, curious, precise, and asks important questions. She is also creative. Her combination of research, her own ideas to design tools, and strategies for storytelling with data is unique and has allowed us to take action on findings. 

Amelia thoughtfully orchestrated behind the scenes work for our Summer Writers Clubs to thrive, for students to feel seen, for sessions to run smoothly, and for us to acquire all of the missing pieces. She was essential in organizing and preparing the Writers Club student writing for publication, resulting in chapbooks such as A Tiptoe From the Shadows.

Don’t take yourself too seriously! Embrace the opportunity 826 programs give you to reconnect to your childhood imagination and throw yourself whole-heartedly into the whimsical worlds students write about. They will appreciate your sincerity, and you can learn from their creativity!

-Amelia Popowicz

She gave thoughtful feedback to steer the summer. This summer she not only supported summer programs, but also  reached out to many students and families via email and phone to collect their feedback on our programs, including our Writing Kits, which had traditionally been difficult to track.

Amelia’s comprehensive report from her findings on kits informed new directions for this pandemic-time program. While she was doing all of that, she also wrangled data from what seemed like a million places to create an annual report presentation complete with colorful graphs, quotes that told the stories of the past year, and analysis to show what we are doing well and where we need to grow. She stayed on as an intern for the fall working on research and evaluation and was ready to infuse our programs with ways to gather quantifiable information that we need to assess and improve and, dare I say, celebrate. 

In addition to compiling and presenting data for different audiences, Amelia is also learning to use Salesforce, our Cloud-based database, to track volunteer and student attendance and program reach, AND she’s co-designing new program quality measurement tools with fellow intern Sarah Allen to answer never-before-answered questions about student experiences in field trips and Wee-bots. She also has been representing 826michigan in the Inclusive Research Matters Seminar Series at the University of Michigan to learn data collection best practices for our organization that can be accessible to writers of all backgrounds.  

Amelia’s Favorite 826michigan Moment

“It is difficult to pick just one moment,” Amelia said. “But, I’ll go with one of my very first volunteer experiences with 826: a virtual field trip. The students wrote a story about a deserted island where monkeys ran a Taco Bell selling banana tacos and defended their supply of ingredients from a band of rebel squirrels.”

“The concept was so fabulously zany, and the students’ energy was infectious. I instantly fell in love with the magic of 826michigan programs and knew I needed more of it in my life!”

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