Last week, BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), reportedly the largest evidence-based summer learning provider in the U.S., received a 10-year $30 million grant from The Ballmer Group. Founded by former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie, The Ballmer Group supports organizations and initiatives aimed at improving economic mobility for children and families in the U.S.
We asked educator Earline Mensah of the Adelaide Sanford Institute’s (ASI) Parent Leadership Institute to share thoughts on this announcement and comment on how local communities can attract funding and resources. Her answer is below.
By Earline Mensah
Looking at the Board of Directors for BELL, it is quite apparent that these individuals have networks with economic and hence political clout.
If we are to change the narrative and attract partners with the before-mentioned, it is imperative that we work with others in our community that have shown tenacity and a track record of academic success that translates to success for “the whole community” — a reason I am truly thankful to the leadership of the Adelaide Sanford Institute.
An elder in our community who has since passed on would often articulate that we have everything we need in our community – like the Institute — to change the dire circumstances which are so glaring and prevalent in many of our neighborhoods. We have countless individuals, you and your husband being prime examples, who understand the concept that it “takes a village”.
It takes courage and fortitude to prevail. These are traits that our unsung heroes and heroines display day in and out, and are rarely acknowledged for. If we are to change the condition of “our collective community”, we have to be willing to persevere in the face of adversity and work with others who are principled and are doing the work to elicit real change.
To reach our goals of creating a community where our progeny will persevere and be able to sustain themselves mentally and physically, we must be willing to “work” with others that have demonstrated “true leadership”. If we want equity in education, housing, employment and, in essence, life, we must continue to engage and build sustainable relationships with others who desire the same.
The popular educators Dr. Lester Young and his gracious wife Dr. Renee Young are constantly reaching out and sharing valuable information that profoundly impacts the lives of so many of “our children”, and of course I cannot honor their work without acknowledging the profound wisdom of Dr. Adelaide Sanford, a true pioneer in the academic community of New York City. We must understand the principle “that charity begins at home and spreads abroad” – a principle that speaks volumes about our collective circumstances.
Mensah is researching information about “BELL”, especially schools in NYC that have partnered with this organization, and will report her findings in a future edition of Our Time Press. [firstname.lastname@example.org]