After a year online due to the COVID pandemic, the USC Annenberg Third Space Youth Institute (TSYI) returned to campus this past summer, hosting more than 250 low-income and migrant students from throughout California. Students were introduced to the ACE-IT methodology for problem-solving that focuses on five core competencies or skills – Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity, and 360-degree thinking (ACE-IT Model) — that are critical to success in their academic, professional, and leadership careers.
Students who participated in the five-day program enhanced their mastery of these essential skills, improved their writing and speaking skills, use of digital and social media, presentation and networking skills, professional etiquette, college preparedness, and career development with the purpose of creating a personal brand that will propel them into their academic and professional careers. Experts in their field, USC faculty and staff led workshops for participants that empowered and motivated the students to serve as active and contributing members of society.
The participants came from 14 different schools in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Butte counties. According to the California Department of Education, one out of every three migrant students in the United States lives in California. It is estimated that 90 percent of those students are of Latino origin, and 34 percent are English Language Learners. In the 2018–19 school year, 78,947 youth ages 3–21 were identified as migratory youth in California.
Prior to the start of the program, students take the Third Space Thinking Assessment, a proprietary tool, that measures an individual's current proficiency in each of the five core ACE-IT competencies. Participants attend workshops every day and apply what they learn to their Third Space Group Project which they present at the end of the week in front of their peers, USC staff, parents and school administrators.
Students also participate in various group activities and exercises, visit the California African American Museum and take a tour of Annenberg's state-of-the-art media center. For many students, this is their first time visiting a college campus. Via a scavenger hunt activity, participants had an opportunity to explore USC and learn about the school’s extensive history through various landmarks located throughout the campus. Finally, the program culminates with a certificate ceremony which is presented to each student along with a photo opportunity.