Our ultimate goal is to annually prepare the nation’s poorest 20% of students to enter kindergarten annually. Our strategy is to eliminate poverty by starting where it is worse, in high poverty school communities. Nearly 25% of US public school students are high poverty, meaning they are more likely than any other student group to start kindergarten behind, stay behind, dropout, and repeat the cycle of poverty. 10BH will put an end to this for good.
My claim to fame is not a stellar education, a storied work experience, long trips to poor continents, a family background steeped in social justice, or an economically rewarding career that lacked personal fulfillment. My reason for doing what I do stems from knowing what tends to happen to kids who grow up in adversity.
I wasn’t born a crack baby, but I was born to an alcoholic. I’m not illiterate, but I did fail second grade because I was deficient in reading. I didn’t go to bed hungry at night, but I did work from the age of 6 to help my family pay the bills. I’m a high school dropout. I ran with drug dealers and gangsters. I was homeless. So, in lots of ways I know what it’s like to overlook the idea of college, career, and cause.
Furthermore, I don’t want to eliminate poverty because of statistics or research. I got started because I wanted kids in my community to have a fair shot at life and economic success just like the kids I home tutored. I saw a basic service that helped kids succeed academically and feel better about themselves at the same time. I saw my Learner Centric Approach to tutoring motivate kids to want to learn, which always resulted in them spending countless hours learning, and almost by default, resulted in their grades improving to at or above grade level.
I found my way to college and a tutoring business through my own self-motivated efforts. I could easily be in prison or dead today if I would have stayed on the track I was on. But, once I read my first book and fell in love with learning at age 23, a new personal history was set into motion. All I wanted to do was learn, learn, learn about human struggle and the ways people could overcome it.
That’s how I wound up in college. I literally told myself, “Dog, I’d rather be lost in school than on the streets.” I knew the streets. College was a foreign concept. But, if I went I could increase the amount of time I spent learning. And, when you are motivated to learn like I was it was a no-brainer decision.
I remember telling a lot of quote unquote “bad” people (my friends) that I had to “stab out” and go to college. “I ain’t know what the f*** I’m finna do, but f*** it, I’m finna do something.” And, I did. I degreed in this unknown discipline called Economics. I had never heard of it, but sure loved studying it. So, I degreed in it. Now, I kind of consider myself an “economist of causes”. I love to study the broader environment in which social justice institutions exist and how structurally things can be improved. But, I digress!
I was asked to write a blog post about myself that could show “the people behind the work that SVCF deals with every day.” So, I chose to go back to when I began to teach myself to write at age 23. Back then, I wrote at about a 7th grade level and would sit down every day for nearly 3 years and at a minimum do a 5-10 minute free write. That’s when you have to write without stopping even if it means writing “I don’t know what to write” over and over again until a thought pops to mind. Often days I would end up writing for 6-8 hours. I had so much to reflect on after 23 years of not really thinking.
My dedication is to children of supposed “disadvantage”. I believe they are just as capable of succeeding as anyone else and that their parents want them to succeed just as much as anyone else. Ultimately, that’s what I’m on a vision to prove.
Thanks for reading my free write!
Where does success start?
Donating books, or reading donated books?
Preschool, or Home and Preschool?