Diversity…Kids Need it Too! Author: Marcia Page

Have you ever looked around the room at a group of your friends and noticed that you all have a lot in common? I am not referring to how you look, though you and your friends may resemble, in this instance I am talking about the similarities in the way you see the world, the values you share, your backgrounds and shared experiences. According to research, this is not by coincidence; we are hard-wired to desire like-minded companions. In fact, the research goes on to say that “similarity is very useful, and people are attracted to it most of the time”. If we think about it, this is not really a surprise. We tend to be more comfortable, more trusting, and have more in common with those just like us.

The problem with this sort of thinking and conformity is that every time we limit our exposure, we lose the opportunity to stretch and grow. Whether you have the chance to meet someone from another ethnic group, someone far richer or poorer than you are, do it. The upside potential is huge. Embrace the idea; talking with others exposes us to differing points of view and cultural nuances.

Question the hypothesis about the value of diversity if you will, but having a broader sense of the world around, seeing the same problems from several points of view, understanding how other cultures and different economic strata process information and make decisions, is enriching. On the surface, my comments here may strike you as social commentary or an updated line from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. In part, you would be correct. Adding a little diversity to your life would probably improve your social life or at least infuse a little excitement (smiles). However, the real reason for advocating for diversity is directly related to helping our students prepare for success in a global economy.

In truth, diversity is all around; it is the norm. Those in the workforce now know that diversity is everywhere and those able to collaborate across racial, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries will be poised to lead America to our next, best years.

Big Dollars Count, Small Dollars Matter!

Ever wonder why talented students with great financial aid packages don’t finish college? Income inequality is likely a factor. Frequently costs, not just the cost of tuition, but the finances required for books, materials, transportation to and from school and housing are a big factor.

According to Morgan State University’s administrator over student retention efforts, Tiffany Mfume, many students who stopped their college degree program were very close to meeting their financial obligations. In fact, in Mfume’s research, 10 percent of students that put their academic careers on hold until they were able to pay owed less than $1,000. Though income and earnings have stalled for many, the cost of education has continued to escalate. If a $1,000 debt could end a college career for one in ten at Morgan State University, imagine what a financial obligation of much larger sums would do to many others.

A few progressive schools have created programs specifically to address this issue. They identify highly qualified low and middle-income students, using fundraising contributions and other sources of financial aid the goal is to close the financial gap and assure that students begin their college educations and end with a degree in hand. In fact, at Morgan State, a $5 million campaign was launched and the college’s president put his own money were his heart was and pledged $100,000 toward the effort. Bravo to all the visionary schools and administrators who have taken action to remedy this issue at least short term, but let us not forget, wholesale reform is needed to remedy the income inequality issue as it relates to education.

Poised for action and always ready to jump in with a helping hand, Education is Freedom (EIF) is not waiting around for the entire US economic system rewrite to repair the income inequality dilemma. Instead we are taking action to do what we can, while we can and we want you to join us for the inaugural fundraiser aimed at providing 100 scholarships to Dallas’ best and brightest students from 10 Dallas ISD schools. The program entitled, An Evening with the Stars, 2016 Inaugural Scholarship Event will directly support EIF graduating seniors with a personalized scholarship that will cover college costs that are not traditionally covered by financial aid. Join EIF and Highland Capital, the title sponsor, Saturday, May 21st, 5-7pm at the Dallas Zoo to participate. Not able to attend? There are many ways to assist, click here for more information on how you can contribute; no gift is too small to help.

In closing, no one is more aware of the monumental task before the country in finding a remedy to income inequality and its impact on the educational achievement gap than we are. We applaud Morgan State University and other progressive schools that have developed programs to address this pressing issue. But, we also know that to support our vision for the children of Dallas ISD and to live our mission to create well-educated, career ready young adults, we must act now.  The need is great, the time is now, can we count on your support ?