Renate Matthews guides her students along that journey. She's a teacher of the Youth Entrepreneurs® program, a high school elective geared toward students from low-income communities. They offer students an opportunity to learn the values and skills they'll need to succeed in life by pursuing their interests in business, while empowering teachers to make learning an experience instead of a chore.
“I love the growth I see in my students and the growth that I see in myself, as well,” Renate said.
In contrast to today’s system, which over-emphasizes rote memorization and testing, students in Renate’s Detroit public school classroom engage in hands-on projects to build self-confidence and real-world experience. For example, Renate’s students start their own business as a class project.
As for results, 99 percent of Youth Entrepreneurs students graduate high school—and compared to the national average, they are 50 percent more likely to graduate from college.
“Before Youth Entrepreneurs, I thought business was an impenetrable institution that nobody could get into,” said Charity, a student and co-founder of a beauty supply startup. “But after, I found my confidence in myself and the ability to make products that people value.”
“These students have all the ability to accomplish whatever they want to. It’s a matter of finding a way to get that out of them.”
– Jason Filie, K-12 teacher with Youth Entrepreneurs
Working with the Stand Together community, Youth Entrepreneurs has expanded from 50 programs in three states in 2015 to almost 300 programs in 19 states in 2019. And YE teachers are not alone. In total, organizations in the Stand Together community serve more than 80,000 K-12 teachers through such resources as a curricula, materials, and trainings.
Whether through public or private school, charter or homeschool, virtual school or vocational training—every child deserves a quality education that unleashes their unique potential.
Derrell Bradford is working to make that a reality through education reforms and national thought leadership.
His motivation is personal. “I won the school lottery as a kid,” Derrell recalled, referencing his own education. “My opportunities and the people who taught me filled me up. I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than pursuing that end for all kids.”
Now Derrell is the executive vice president at 50CAN, working to unite all different groups of stakeholders—families, educators, scholars, policymakers—to collaborate on K-12 reforms in their communities.
For example, 50CAN sponsors the National Voices Fellowship, which aims to empower the next generation of rising thought leaders in education. The Fellowship supports education reformers as they build programs focused on policy reform, community engagement, and sharing ideas in the media. Fellows come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and bring their unique perspective to the challenges of education reform.
What does all this mean for children? There is not one solution to meet the unique needs of each child. By elevating diverse voices, 50CAN helps bring new ideas to the table and inspire reforms. And they are just one of more than 50 organizations that are part of the Stand Together community, working to improve K-12 education to help all students unlock their potential.
Jim and Melinda Hollandsworth were horrified when they learned that most of the children from the mobile home community in their hometown of Loganville, Georgia were dropping out of high school—making them seven times more likely to endure poverty later in life than those who graduate.
The Hollandsworths decided to act. They'd always believed communities are essential to fill gaps left by broken families and other misfortunes. So, they began tutoring children in their living room.
After seeing the impact they were having on children's lives—and having discovered their own unique passions and gifts to help others—they founded the Path Project in 2012. It's a nonprofit that today serves 800 students through community centers in eight mobile home parks.
Among other programs, the Hollandsworths offer pre-school as well as homework and reading clubs, which are especially important for helping students from Hispanic-immigrant households learn English.
And it's working. In stark contrast to many of their peers, 95 percent of Path Project students attend school regularly, 87 percent are passing reading and math, and 92 percent have good discipline at school.
The Path Project is one of 141 local groups tackling poverty that are part of the Stand Together community. Programs like these demonstrate how essential strong communities are to ensuring students have the support to pursue education where other traditional support systems have failed.
Art Ciocca had long wrestled with how he could pass onto others the ideas and principles that led to his own personal success. Now chairman emeritus of The Wine Group, he led the company he founded with a group of coworkers to be the third largest wine company in the world—which includes brands like Franzia, Cupcake, and many more.
But after supporting various programs in higher education over the years, he wasn't satisfied with the impact he was having.
That changed in 2016, when Art and his wife Carlyse helped The Catholic University of America launch the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship. It came at the encouragement of two other supporters in the Stand Together community, Tim and Steph Busch, after whom the university's business school is named.
Rather than the sort of cronyism you see at many businesses—lobbying government to rig the system in their favor at the expense of everyone else—students at the Ciocca Center learn how to succeed by creating the most benefit for their customers and employees, which helps society overall.
Art is also now supporting a satellite program at The Catholic University of America aimed at providing a business school education to underserved communities. And it created another program to provide education and management training to small businesses.
The Ciocca Center is just one of the programs the Stand Together community supports at over 350 universities, including 17 focused on principled entrepreneurship.
The Stand Together community is uniting social entrepreneurs—innovative teachers helping children discover their gifts, advocates offering ideas for reform, community leaders supporting those who fall behind, and business leaders helping educate the next generation. These bottom-up efforts started with one person, then engaged hundreds, and now along with many partners, they are poised to make a difference on a national scale.
By standing together and approaching the challenge from different angles, we can help ensure excellent education so that every person can rise.
There's still a long way to go. What role can you play in driving more progress—and can Stand Together help you greater your good?SM Find out how we can help you launch or grow your own organization or support the most effective groups in the country.
If you're a social entrepreneur looking to start a new venture or want to increase your impact and effectiveness, find out how we can help connect you with the necessary support and resources.
There are many ways you can make a difference on the issues you care about most. Partner with the Stand Together community to help supercharge some of the most effective organizations in the country.