5 Boston Founding Members passionate about education

9 Nov
Boston, with 26 universities, is fertile seeding ground for startup social enterprises and nonprofit organizations focused on education. Today’s diverse group of Founding Members all share a passion for education. Read on to learn more!

City Year  is one of the seminal education organizations in the United States, with locations across the country, South Africa and the UK. The organization unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, providing them skills, opportunities and inspiration (or confidence?) to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities. As CEO and Co-Founder Michael Brown stated in City Year’s 2010 Annual Report: “Education is the foundation of the American dream. Yet more than one million students give up on school in the United States every year. The high school dropout crisis is a national epidemic that requires bold action.” City Year is taking action. In a 2010 survey of students, 80% of the 4,400 respondents agreed, “City Year helps me learn, and helps me believe I can succeed.” Learn more about City Year here.

The dream for Year Up was born in Boston, through what was perhaps one of the most impassioned college application essays ever received by Harvard Business School. Inspired by his experience as a Big Brother and equally appalled by the injustices of the Opportunity Divide he witnessed whilst mentoring his Little Brother, Gerald Chertavian, Year Up’s Founder and CEO, wrote his Harvard application essay about his dream to open an urban school for young adults. Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. In its first year, Year Up mentored 22 students in Boston; it is now a nationwide movement that will serve over 1,400 students in nine cities across the country this year.

The Right Question Institute (RQI)  is a unique organization. It’s mission is simple yet powerful: To help individuals in low and moderate-income communities learn to advocate for themselves and participate in decisions that affect them. The organization develops uncomplicated but impactful methods for teaching sophisticated self-advocacy and democratic skills to people of all educational, income or literacy levels. They then disseminate these tools to institutions in a “train the trainer” method. For instance, the organization has helped health educators, nurses, doctors, and other health staff use the Right Question Strategy to support patient efforts to participate more actively in their own health care and promote more patient-provider shared decision-making. To read about the universal relevance of RQI’s methods, click here.

For the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC), “…the establishment of a network of schools diverse in their configuration but united in their commitment to educate and affirmatively develop boys and young men of color is critically important.” Ron Walker, COSEBOC’s Founder and Executive Director, has 4 decades experience as an educator and spent the last 15 years as leader of a national school reform project. To realize its mission – of re-imagining and transforming the schooling experience for males of color and help them attain success – the organization builds networked learning community of educators, researchers, policy-makers and caring adults who support school leaders with high quality professional development. To read more, click here.

Raising a Reader (RAR)’s mission is to engage parents in a routine of daily “book cuddling” with their children from birth to age five. This fosters healthy brain development, parent-child bonding, and early literacy skills critical for school success. Operated through a variety of host agencies, RAR rotates a set of bright red bags filled with award-winning children’s books into the homes of participating families on a weekly basis. In its short ten year history, Raising A Reader has already reached 811,000 children. Its long term goal is to extend its reach as a leader in early literacy family engagement and eventually reach one million children. In 2006, 2007, and 2008 Raising A Reader was named one of the top 45 social entrepreneurs changing the world by Fast Company Magazine.

In tomorrow’s profiles – Boston Founding Members who are foundations and incubators behind nonprofits and entrepreneurs


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