Providing Equal Opportunity through Education

America has institutionalized racism and sexism to a terrifying degree. The current system makes the past American dream of rising in stature an impossible feat for the majority of Americans. We see people taking notice of this deeply disturbing reality as of late. Most prominently we saw a great deal of support and solidarity spread in the Occupy Wall Street movement. However with no centralized leaders or concrete demands the frustrations of the people (as displayed in the motto: “we are the 99 percent) have not relinquished. The massiveness of the problem makes it an even more difficult one to address. So many institutions, some governmental some not, reinforce the vast inequalities that make our nation nearly fall apart at the seams.

No one knows the solution, and little has been done to address the topic on a national level. However many have come to a conclusion on the best solution to poverty and inequality: equal opportunity. In America, the easiest way to make this concept a reality is through education. This means we must provide all the children of America with the same educational opportunities as anyone else is afforded.

This need has yet to be met. A nomenclature of the problem presents itself in the statistic that every 26 seconds a student drops out from high school. With so many dropouts in America (thousands every day) the disparities just continue to widen. In a step to end this drop-out crisis America’s Promise Alliance created the Grad Nation campaign with the ultimate goal of 90 percent graduation by 2020. If this ambitious goal is to be reached a great deal of work must be done. Coming in as a youth board member last year I was amazed at that reach America’s Promise has across the nation. Its long list of partner organizations seemed unbelievable until I saw the representation at the Grad Nation Summit last spring. I find the work of America’s Promise to be incredibly important, however going in I knew little about how an organization with such far reach could function as a cohesive whole in this huge campaign.

I came in at the opportune moment for learning. Watching the search and then hire of a new CEO provided me with a peek into a life I had previously never even fathomed: running a multi-million dollar non-profit organization that is leading the way in the civil rights movement of my generation. With the new CEO John Gompers comes in new experiences and perspectives that I find to be invigorating and uplifting in the challenge that lies ahead for America’s Promise Alliance and America’s youth in the following years. I understand just how difficult the road ahead is, but I am also able to hear and learn from America’s top experts and best minds on what solutions have worked and what can be done in our communities to shrink the achievement gap.

As I continue this journey I hope to share my thoughts and what I have learned with my fellow peers and with those I work with through my community connections. But for those of you who do not have the opportunity to be on a board like that of America’s Promise, I have a place for you to look for wisdom and solutions. The youth. We are the ones most impacted by the system, and are subsequently the ones who know the reality of what is happening right now. We are the ones impacted, we know the problems, and we all know the solutions at the very least on a personal level. So please, I suggest you join the fight for educational equality and ask the youth what is going on in their schools. I can guarantee you will find a pot full of knowledge.