What happens when you hear the word “opportunity”?
For me, I remember being five years old, shuffling down the street of New York City.
In my final days of Pre-K, my mother and I toured the city in search of my new elementary school. But it was more than just a school. It was the place I’d call home for the next five years, and it was a key to opportunity, that unfortunately, many children never get.
As a single, black mother in the 90s, my mom knew that the school I attended would impact the life I’d be able to lead. Thankfully, my mother could take time off work to find the best place for my education. Unfortunately, many other families didn’t, and still don’t, have the time or resources to go through the onerous process of getting their child into a school they weren’t “zoned” for.
The school we eventually found was just a few city blocks from where I lived, but it might as well have been two different worlds when it comes to opportunity.
We must ask important education questions now
Today, 20 years later, a child’s place of birth, even down to their zip code, plays a distinctive role in determining the rest of their life. And much of this comes down to education.
As we envision a world of greater equity in the midst of a pandemic that exposes century-old fault lines, we have an opportunity to ask important questions: How do we want our children to be educated? Do we really want to settle for a society where something as arbitrary as a zip code wields so much power?
Today, as school districts across the country announce continued closures, we know that lower income communities are less likely to get the resources they need to prevent learning loss, let alone create opportunities for children to thrive.
The way society grapples with educating our children through this pandemic will have lasting effects. It will impact outcomes for the kids who are in school right now, and it will mostly likely impact the way kids are educated for future generations.
A new role, and $2M to support learning for all kids
That’s why in June I joined Outschool as the Executive Director of Outschool.Org. In this role, I’ll have the opportunity to lead our efforts in ensuring access to quality learning for all students, regardless of their ability to afford it.
In our efforts to help create a world where zip code or birth place aren’t barriers to learning, I’m excited to announce that Outschool has committed $2M through the next school year to help us get there. This money will go to support school districts, schools and community organizations in the U.S. whose work supports family access to educational resources while fostering the human connection so many of our kids are missing.
With this grant, Outschool.org will kickoff an effort to raise an additional $8M to support families, learners and community institutions this school year. We hope that this $10M effort will be an early step in our efforts to contribute to a society wherein parents in Harlem, Billings, or Nairobi never have to worry that their children will learn any less because of where they live.
We’re striving for the day that mothers like mine will know with confidence that the schools to which they send their children are well-resourced and that access to learning is a right, not a luxury.
For more information on how Outschool.org is supporting communities and families, please visit Outschool.Org.