United Way Worldwide recently webcast a town hall meeting to learn more about the state of education in communities across the country. Hosted by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, the purpose of the event was to ask about the biggest challenges facing youth, especially those that are preventing them from obtaining a good education.
The meeting coincided with the release of “Voices for the Common Good: America Speaks Out on Education,” a report that documents the aspirations and concerns of everyday Americans who shared their opinions on what it will take for children to succeed in life.
One of the report’s most significant findings: People want to work together to improve education, but they don’t know where to start.
In response, United Way Worldwide is launching an initiative to recruit one million volunteer readers, tutors, and mentors over the next three years. It’s a huge undertaking, but one that has incredible potential for helping turn our educational system around – and improve the future for our children and nation.
That said, I’d like to share a story of how my own life was changed by a person who took an active interest in my education.
As a ninth grader, I attended a high school that could have very well been described as a “dropout factory.” I was an “A” student, but not for the grades I worked to earn. Rather, I was a quiet student who did not give the teacher any trouble.
I remember sitting in French class one day when the teacher was overrun by loud and aggressive students. As she tried to keep control of the class, I continued keeping a low profile. At the end of the semester I earned an “A,” even though the only French I knew were the lyrics of old Labelle song, which under no circumstances would be considered appropriate for a child.
I mentioned to my mother and our next door neighbor—a former educator, no less—that if I went to college at that point, I’d probably flunk out. Thanks to my neighbor’s concern and counseling, I was quickly whisked from my old school and enrolled in a new one where I had to work twice as hard just to catch up to the other students.
The point? My experience shows how one person–in this case, my next door neighbor−got involved with one student–me−and changed the course of my life. It could be just that easy for you to do the same.
That’s why we’re asking you to click here and take the pledge to become one of United Way’s One Million Volunteers. By clicking here, you can also search for meaningful opportunities to volunteer and make a difference right here in our own community.
Go ahead! Join the ranks and start with one child. You just might change a life forever.
JahKiya Bell, MNM
Director of Community Investment
Heart of Florida United Way