There are a million examples around us that show what happens when a kid in elementary or middle school is OR is not inspired as he/she develops. The “no inspiration” end of the spectrum, gets us chains of painfully bad decisions, wasted and stunted potential, and entire eco systems that feed right into wastelands like the school-to-prison pipeline.
On the “inspired” end of the spectrum we get things like positive leadership, innovation and discovery, community-wide improvements, solutions to common problems, better ways of doing things, etc. etc.
I’d like to propose a pipeline that fights back against things like the school-to-prison pipeline with hope that the model is duplicated and improved so far and wide that the school-to-prison pipeline is utterly and completely eradicated. The MVP (most viable product) of this is based on technology, collaboration, sharing, and piecing together what is already there.
I’ll illustrate via storytelling because that’s the best way to roll:
Meet Jesenia - a high school junior in South Los Angeles who, amongst many things, is intrigued and interested in computer programming and cosmetology. Jesenia is involved in her community, sometimes she goes to her high school’s basketball games and a few Saturdays every fall she learns about technology at a local nonprofit.
She’s a happy teenager, a little shy and also a great example of what the future of leadership in America will include a majority of - women of color.
Whether she knows it or not, Jesenia has multiple paths in front of her and a million opportunities can be there for her. On the flip side, a million opportunities have already passed her by and a million x 100 more will swoosh by if she’s not inspired or at least motivated to grab them.
So here is how we inspire Jesenia to see all her paths and ultimately empower her to make the decisions that help her craft her own definition of success:
- Localized programs touching on STEAM identifies Jesenia is someone who shows interest, participates, and could lead
- The Hispanic Heritage Foundation invites Jesenia to Code Jams so that she can learn to build a website to share her victories with make-up and beauty
- Voto Latinos encourages Jesenia to organize a group of 5 friends to attend an upcoming Power Summit so they can all learn about how Latinas are using the web to build representation for themselves while growing their entrepreneurial drive
- HHF motivates Jesenia to apply for their scholarships in engineering to she can go to a top computer science program
- Voto Latinos asks Jesenia to volunteer and to help organize a Power Summit at her college campus
- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute helps Jesenia line up an internship, which subsequently jump starts her career
- NALEO sponsors Jesenia’s participation at a leadership and public servitude workshop so she can run for school board in her kid’s school district
- The New American Alliance invites Jesenia to a National Summit to speak about ways Latinas can build community, membership, and success
This process is duplicated and improved times and times over, with children all over the country and in all kinds of communities.
To make it happen a few core pieces of the puzzle need to come together - an understanding of what relationships and participation looks like, the ability to easily share key data points that tell 1 organization what to do when something happens within another organization, a community of people with a vision.