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Take Action: Education

We define education as the act of sharing knowledge, skills and experience.  

Five Fine Ways to Begin

  1. Know the resources in your area. Understand the need. Mobilize your congregation to fill that need, by volunteering, or by providing books, pencils, or whatever your local schools and school children need, at this moment.
  2. Follow the lead of the Burlingame United Methodist Church, and start a Backpackpalooza backpack giveaway.
  3. Lend your voice !  College students, why not make a social justice movie – Consider the wonderful award-winning student films that have been created so far. They earned cash prizes while having an impact on an important problem:  2010 CMF 3rd Place A Time for Hope and 2012 CMF 2nd Place A Day of Hope. Everyone can speak out in support of investing in effective education for our future.
  4. Visit www.donorschoose.org and fill a need that speaks to your heart.
  5. Visit The Elfenworks Foundation ripple pages, for many other ideas, big and small, on how to get involved.

Form a prayer team within your faith community. Pray on it. Many more ideas will arise.

Five Fresh Faces for Education

The following five social entrepreneurs were all honored with The Elfenworks Foundation’s In Harmony With Hope Award, for their vision and dedication, all leading to a more hopeful tomorrow for our youth.  You will be inspired by their stories, and may wish to reach out and partner with one or more of them:

  1. Rafael Alvarez created Genesys Works in 2002 to create a pathway out of poverty. The program includes a summer intensive in soft skills and technical training to high school students. In the fall, the newly trained workers are placed into large Fortune 500 corporations to practice on-the-job training. School cooperative education provisions allow for internships to be combined with senior year academics. In a win-win proposition, the students are paid substantially more than minimum wage and the corporations pay less than the going rate for trained IT workers. In 2011, more than 600 seniors caught in a generational povertyloop that doesn’t provide access to living wages, started on their paths to professional careers in Houston, Chicago and the Twin Cities. Expansion plans are on track for programs in cities across the country, including San Francisco. Of special note, 75% percent of Genesys Works’ budget comes from earned income.
  2. Maurice Lim Miller founded the Family Independence Initiative (FII) in 2000 to develop strategies that increase the control and choice that low-income people hold in their lives, reinforce community and reward initiative. These new approaches for social and economic mobility use age-old strengths of self-determination, mutuality and choice. Over the past 10 years, in demonstration projects around the country, FII has partnered with 3,500 individuals—placing them in peer support groups that meet monthly andchallenging them to come up with their own solutions. FII incentivizes monthly reporting of data, which provides each family with small amounts of extra capital. By investing in their strengths and initiative, FII is able to deliver powerful, sustainable, and cost-effective outcomes: on average, participants report a 23% increase in earnings and a 240% increase in savings.
  3. Paul Minorini has been involved with Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) for nearly half his life. The organization helps academically capable and motivated children in need meet their full potential and become men and women for others by providing family-like support in a home-like environment, and opportunities and education through college. Under his leadership, Boys Hope Girls Hope began a community-based outreach program for children whose home situation did not require out-of-home placement, effectively doubling the number the children that BHGH can serve. Based in Bridgeton, Missouri, Boys Hope Girls Hope currently serves children in 15 U.S. cities, plus Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.
  4. Jim McCorkell founded College Possible in 2000, joining together his personal knowledge of what it means to grow up in poverty with his belief that education provides the most likely path out of poverty. His goal was to make postsecondary education a reality for the 200,000 at-risk kids each year who graduate high school prepared for college but who, thanks to cultural and functional barriers, aren’t able to get there. College Possible delivers highly personalized support to 9,000 low-income students in the Twin Cities area. Also in operation in Milwaukee and Omaha, Nebraska, College Possible is in the process of scaling up to serve 20,000 students annually across the country in the next several years. McCorkell was the first person in the country to leverage the AmeriCorps service infrastructure for college access, and it is essential to the model’s success.
  5. Bill Milliken (Founder), Communities In Schools — All his life, Bill Milliken had been told he was dumb, so he stopped caring about school and began hanging out on the streets. A chance encounter with a caring adult who taught him to believe in a different life story, changed Milliken’s life forever. Within a few years, he and a friend had founded 18 schools they called “street academies” in Harlem. Over the next 30-40 years, his work has evolved into what is now the country’s largest dropout prevention program, Communities In Schools (CIS). It was founded in the belief that programs don’t change kids but relationships do. CIS is a unique community model that forms partnerships between schools, families, and community leaders to build a solid support system for students.

All of the above innovators would welcome support and encouragement. Most or all of their websites include current needs lists, but you can also reach out to them and ask about partnership opportunities. No doubt they’d be happy for the help.