Affiliated with the University of California's systemwide
Humanities Research Institute
The MacArthur Foundation
President Barack Obama recently announced his administration's response to America's engagement problem with young men of color. Partnering foundations have pledged to raise $200 million for the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative. The funds will be used over the next five years to seek and seed programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. I, like many advocates, welcome this commitment.But let's remember, there are too many nefarious ways to demonstrate "improvement." In addition, improvement must be had at institutional and policy levels to have widespread impact. Moreover, America must eventually face black men and as a consequence our deepest fears.Black males aren't 22 million individual problems to be solved. Obama properly framed the problem as an American or institutional one. All communities must succeed "so America can reach its full potential." All Americans and future citizens are inextricably linked. Consequently, a spotlight must be placed on institutional transformation to reach multiple communities simultaneously. America needs sea change among those institutions that can strongly influence individual outcomes.But the dominant way governmental and non-governmental agencies determine what is promising is by evaluating achievement among individuals who are served by a particular program or school. Every city can claim programmatic success, but direct services seldom go upstream and address deeper causes. My Brother's Keeper is admission that our prior programmatic efforts aren't wide or deep enough.Obama evoked Trayvon Martin's name at the My Brother's Keeper announcement at the White House. Martin died by the actions of a man. However, he also died because of reckless and inherently biased policy. Stand your ground, stop-n-frisk, shop-n-frisk, driving while black, three strikes, and other policies must change if we are to see black males succeed as individuals. It's almost insulting to remind ourselves that ethnicity and race don't predict employment, incarceration, or educational levels; one's life chances are relative to particular social milieus.
If you have to do homework, why not do it at a desk that catalyzes creative play? In the latest episode of MAKE Magazine's "Making Fun" series, Jeff Highsmith constructs "a one-of-a-kind mission control console that closes up and works as a regular homework desk when it's not in use--which is probably not very often," for his sons. The desk's "console plays space-related sounds and has many lights, knobs and switches."
Last week President Obama unveiled an initiative called "My Brother's Keeper" to address the systematic barriers to success faced by many young men of color. Reaction to the announcement was mixed, with some commending Obama for giving young black and Latino men a helping hand, while others pointed out the flawed logic endorsed by the President that "young men of color just need to 'work hard.'"Using the bully pulpit to rally support and foundation dollars to help boys and young men of color succeed is laudable. The problem lies in trying to pass off moral speechifying as substantive action. "My Brother's Keeper" is no substitute for jobs, housing, and access to quality education and training, and it won't have any meaningful impact on the appalling racism and conditions of life in the inner cities faced by black and Latino youth. It's like a warm blanket. It's comforting when it's cold. But it's no replacement for having heat.That Obama's initiative is well-meaning and too simplistic has generated a fair amount of commentary. It's his recurring theme of the absentee black father in comments announcing "My Brother's Keeper" that I want to rebuke."We can reform our criminal justice system to ensure that it's not infected with bias. But nothing keeps a young man out of trouble like a father who takes an active role in his son's life.""Yes, we need to train our workers, invest in our schools, make college more affordable, and government has a role to play, and, yes, we need to encourage fathers to stick around and remove the barriers to marriage and talk openly about things like responsibility…"These jewels of wisdom on black fatherhood and personal responsibility aren't just preachy and patronizing. They're a lie. The evidence doesn't support the President's sweeping pronouncements about fatherhood and marriage in black communities.Stephanie Coontz, author and professor at The Evergreen State College, points to "the widespread assumption that failure to marry, rather than unemployment, poor education, and lack of affordable child care, is the primary cause of child poverty" and comes to the conclusion that "nonmarriage is often a result of poverty and economic insecurity rather than a cause.
I found my diary from when I was 10. I turned it into a script. Then, I made a movie.John Cusack narrated. Our soundtrack was 80s gold. We won Audience Awards and Best Feature Film—at over a dozen amazing festivals. We played at PIXAR. Played at Harvard. Played around the world.And then, we were orphaned.Independent film distribution collapsed. Blockbuster Video went bankrupt. Releasing arms shuttered. No films were bought our festival year. The dream of being discovered—vanished. Money to pay back investors...gone.Studios loved seeing Summerhood, but told me a traditional marketing campaign would cost 2000 times more than the film would earn, (our actual financial forecast). It wasn't going to be worth enough money to them. And they all passed. None of this was supposed to happen...First you kick some stuff. Then you kick yourself.And then you kick some walls down…But, even in small amounts, I realized that money generated from our film screenings would have great value to people who really needed it; namely schools and charities—and that is when I came up with FILMRAISER.The FILMRAISER model provides critical funding to school programs by arranging advance screenings of upcoming Hollywood movies as local fundraisers—with underfunded schools across the country getting to keep a meaningful percentage of the theatrical box office funds. Different from existing social action campaigns for films which hope to inspire action, the FILMRAISER model is integrated such that seeing the film—whether it's "SPIDERMAN" or "FED UP"– IS the action. Schools are already using the box office to pay for critical student programs like art, athletics, drama and music. Many have even directed the funds to support a charity that is important to them.After successfully testing the model in Canada for two years, I moved to Los Angeles and brokered partnerships with Regal Cinemas and United Way Worldwide to launch the company with Summerhood as our first release.We are now in over 6000 schools — K-12 plus college, and working with studios—helping them to market their movies in a meaningful way, and benefiting schools as we go.
Through A City Education, City Year corps members share their experiences working as tutors and mentors in schools in hopes of closing the opportunity gap and ending the dropout crisis.In New York City, a single subway ride on the 6 train can take you from the Bronx to Brooklyn. It will also take you through some of the wealthiest areas in the country, like 77th Street in Manhattan, and to some of the poorest congressional areas in the country, like Hunts Point in the Bronx. The stark economic differences between these areas can often stigmatize communities, so when it comes to working in the schools, it's easy to make assumptions about the students you're helping. But the real challenge I discovered, is realizing that students are not defined by their circumstances.Right before my service year, I proudly declared to my Facebook friends that I was accepted to do my City Year and that I was going to hopefully "change some lives." I still cringe when I think about it. It alluded that the students I was going to work with needed saving. I had already pigeon-holed my students before I even met them.In a 2009 TED Talk, Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, warns against the danger of giving someone—a group of people, or a place—a single story. Doing so is problematic because it takes something so complex and intricate and lumps it into a single category. It's something we do as humans, every day, whether we realize it or not.When you mention the Bronx being one of the poorest congressional districts, it's easy to only associate the Bronx with that fact. The result is that it minimizes all the great things in the community, and instead it gives it a single story: poverty. When I started my service year, I was exposed to a school system and circumstances largely different than the one I grew up in. Unknowingly, I gave the students a single story by associating them with terms like "underprivileged," and "inner-city kids." Looking back, I think it initially inhibited building relationships with some of my students because I was focused on "changing" them.
Sports matter. Youth sports are what is right with America, the world, and humanity. I’m serious. And every kid in every corner of this country should have the chance to experience youth sports. Anything short of that is unacceptable.What activity besides youth sports, when properly administered, simultaneously summons pure joy and also challenges us to our cores; demands our individual talent and demonstrates the beauty of sacrifice for the team; brings out our competitive instincts against our adversaries and ends with a handshake; attracts kids from every group imaginable and builds bridges across ethnic/racial/class divisions; and does all of that on a truly level playing field where everyone is subject to the same rules?Sure, youth sports is also a microcosm of the pains of childhood. By definition we can’t all be all-stars, make varsity, or play in college. We look at those kids who seem to effortlessly pick up new skills and wonder why we can’t do the same. We struggle with coaches as we develop into independent, fully formed adults. But that’s the good stuff - the drama of figuring out who we are, fighting to learn something new, coming to the support of a teammate having a tough time, learning to experience victory and defeat with equal grace. What would our individual, communal, and national lives be without those ups and downs?Youth sports has been proven to increase academic performance; improve kids’ ability to manage emotions, resolve conflict, and resist peer pressure; reduce absenteeism; and provide mentors that reduce drug and alcohol abuse. Cutting across these and other benefits is the particular value youth sports serves for girls and kids from lower-income families. This is why so many women business leaders played sports and why 91 percent of Americans recognize sports are important to their children’s development.If you agree with me, you’ll also share my anger that youth sports teams are disappearing and new ones can’t get off the ground. An estimated $3.5 billion was cut from school sports budgets during the 2009-2011 school years.
On International Women’s Day, WFP USA celebrates one of its grassroots partners in the field, a nonprofit called the Afghan Friends Network (AFN), which provides literacy and vocational training for women in rural Afghanistan as well as education for boys and girls. AFN is spearheading the country’s first-ever children’s curriculum on women’s rights, which is expected to be introduced this fall.The last time Humaira Ghilzai visited Ghazni in Afghanistan, she was excited to see one of the city’s only classrooms crowded with children. “I dream of an Afghanistan that is peaceful, in which girls and boys have abundant access to education and play an active role in rebuilding their country,” she says of the nation where she was born and raised.Ghilzai is the co-founder of the Afghan Friends Network (AFN), a grassroots non-profit that is trying to restore Ghazni’s legacy as a thriving center of education. Located just 90 miles southwest of Kabul, Ghazni is a city of 140,000 people in a large, mostly rural province. Home to a diverse mix of ethnic Tajiks, Hazaras, Pashtus, Hindus and Sikhs, the city was officially declared the Asian Capital of Islamic Culture by UNESCO last year for its rich history of achievements in philosophy, art, science, math and learning. But despite its proximity to Kabul, the city’s residents remain largely cut off from the international support that flows to Afghanistan’s capital due to a strong resurgence of the Taliban. The road linking the two cities is riddled with dangerous checkpoints manned by gun-toting Talibs who at times behead people on the side of the road. The province’s roads are poor, making it difficult for families to reach hospitals, jobs or schools, cutting them off from economic opportunity. Worse still, nearly three decades of violence—Russian occupation, Mujahideen fighting and Taliban rule—have completely broken down the educational system in Afghanistan. Schools have been destroyed, books have been burned and countless teachers and students have been killed for daring to learn.
Teacherpreneurs movement is growing with more educators brining their ideas to life. Startup Weekend is a great example of how educators can make a change in education: team up with developers, designers and business people and get your idea into people's hands.
In a previous posting I mentioned that clearly one of the principal needs of any person first entering the United States is the need to develop his or her skills in English, to the point of being able to live comfortably in an English environment. I also mentioned that while there have been laudable efforts to meet this need in Philadelphia, there is still much work to be done. Allow me to examine this problem more closely and provide some context for why I...
Foshay Learning Center, in South Central Los Angeles, is hosting an internship fair for their technology students. Join KPCC, FitOrbit, Pressed Juicery and other Los Angeles based companies in hosting an intern for the summer.
When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead. Join the pledge - support the campaign, download the toolkit from the website - whatever you do #banbossy because the world needs more female leaders.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported last year that nearly half of the internships taken by college students in the class of 2013 were unpaid. Many of these arrangements (often temporary, low-level jobs with dubious educational merit) may violate federal labor guidelines, which say that unpaid internships at for-profit companies must be “for the benefit of the intern” and that the employer may not derive an “immediate advantage from the activities of the intern."
All creatives face moments in their careers when they can't get funding, whether it's in the beginning, middle or end. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee is no exception. Most recently, he self-financed Red Hook Summer, a film about an Atlanta boy who visits his religious grandfather in the Brooklyn projects. Before that, Warner Brothers wouldn't increase his budget for Malcolm X, so Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, and Magic Johnson stepped in. And even when Lee did succeed with his highest-grossing film Inside Man, he couldn't get a sequel made. Last year, Lee even said not enough people of color had the power to get greenlight votes in studios.For those of you struggling to produce work now, you may have scoffed at Lee's approach to turn to Kickstarter for his next project, just as you may have done at Rob Thomas and Zach Braff's campaigns. Naysayers may even mention Lee's $40 million networth, his estate on Martha's Vineyard or his Absolut Vodka campaign that "sold-out Brooklyn" as reasons not to finance his next project.However, people may be forgetting that Lee has contributed to his own community in many ways through his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule. As an educator and art director at New York University's graduate film school for 15 years and a founder of non-profit Project 40, Lee has contributed to the social and educational development of underprivileged youth through after-school sports programs, basketball court renovations, SAT Prep, and a minority scholarship at NYU.Whether you like Lee's films or not, you can't deny the cultural impact he has made over the last three decades. Rather than looking at Lee's crowdfunding project as a negative, you could have seen it as an opportunity to become a part of a creative project. At the same time, you probably thought Lee's Kickstarter campaign seemed too vague to be nothing more than a publicity stunt for his up-coming $30 million remake Oldboy. During the campaign, I called Lee to ask him what we were in for. And, this is what he had to say about his upcoming film.
For the past few months, these middle school students in DC have been working to untangle the complexity of global warming and its impact on society. After many conversations and hours of research, they chose to split off into different teams, and worked on an impressive website filled with resources and information, a documentary, a newspaper, an ebook, and even a school composting program.
Check out their website and watch the documentary here http://youtu.be/cKLtszOqwfg.
Kasey Hill’s first position as a teacher was at DeValls Bluff High School, nestled in an antebellum town in rural Arkansas. DeValls Bluff, like so many little towns in America, was withering away. The railroad, once the lifeblood of the town, no longer stopped there. Jobs became few, drug and alcohol use grew. The people who could get out, got out, and those who stayed went on welfare. The town was stuck in a self perpetuating negative lifestyle loop.
as doctors we find little time to relax and share interests between our coworkers. and since most of us need to build up our reading skills to be able to keep up with medicine, I find it interesting to give time to other types of readings that most of us enjoy.
Preschoolers can be smarter than college students at figuring out how unusual toys and gadgets work because they’re more flexible and less biased than adults in their ideas about cause and effect, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Edinburgh.
The Conflict Kitchen only serves food form countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events. Robert Sayre, the Culinary Director, speaks on how the food creates community engagement.
Now that some businesses accept BitCoin and there are BitCoin ATMs, how long till colleges and universities let students pay for school with the cryptocurrency? The University of Puget Sound recently received a donation in the form of BitCoin, leading the school to ask, "By accepting bitcoin, is there some association with criminal activity?" and, ultimately, how can schools "avoid the currency volatility?”
Currently studying computer science and visual art at Harvard University, Ahsante Bean explores the intersection of art, design and technology. Ahsante created the photo campaign #itooamharvard, highlighting the faces and voices of black Harvard students.
High school teacher and CTQ blogger Paul Barnwell decided to switch up the long-held tradition of diving straight into content as the bell was ringing: "Instead, my students and I take 4-5 minutes at the start of every class to practice mindfulness with a simple breathing meditation. And so far, I’m happy with the results of replacing instant work demands with the expectations that students simply be."
Photo Credit: Mitchell Joyce via Flickr
If I was dependent on hiring young adults to be the first face of my brand in a hyper-competitive retail environment, I'd sure like them to be articulate, focused and driven to achieve their dreams. The Gap investment in the Plan Ahead program...seems like a GOOD Fit. Bam!