Literacy is essential to a person's success in school, career, and life. Yet according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 66% of fourth graders in the United States are not proficient readers. In Washington, D.C. this number rises to 81%.
Traditional education reform efforts have centered on individuals already engaged in the public school system—such as teachers and administrators—and have commonly overlooked the role of business leaders not previously involved in education. Consequently, a resource with great potential to bring about meaningful change has been left untapped. An exceptional teacher can shape the future for the children in his or her classroom and an exceptional administrator can create a strong school district, but to incite nationwide reform, we need exceptional individuals from various backgrounds and industries to contribute their diverse strengths and work towards this collective goal.
Maybe you look back fondly on your Scouting days, when you sold cookies instead of stocks and trudged through the woods instead of piles of paperwork. Maybe you still have a soft spot for that little sash covered in all the badges you earned over the years. Or, perhaps you have long since repressed those memories. Either way, badges are no longer a thing of the past. Mozilla’s online initiative to recognize and verify learning, Open Badges, is gaining popularity and support across the country.
While all social outreach programs have good intentions at the core of their mission, some fail to reach far enough into the lives of those they serve to make a truly life-changing difference. The Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection (HW-SC), an innovative program for at-risk youth in New York and Maryland, avoids this pitfall by taking a holistic approach to community outreach.
As summer quickly approaches, thousands of eager teenagers will flood the job market in search of an internship experience to give them a taste of the working world. Businesses, large and small, can benefit from taking on interns and seizing the opportunity to expose our country’s future workforce to new career opportunities.