Education Equity is the Defining Issue of Our Time. Apply to Become an Equity Fellow.
Today’s guest blog is written by AmeriCorps alum Chris Jackson who now works as the Chief Communications Officer for Big Picture Learning (full bio below).
Can it be both heartening and disheartening to hear that an AmeriCorps NCCC team has been deployed to Flint, Michigan, to help the city with its water emergency? Heartening because I remember fondly that this is the type of dire need I was trained to address when I myself was a DC-based Class V Corps member. Disheartening insomuch as in the 16 years since my service ended, I’ve come to realize and expect that there will always be a need for this type of deployment because of the systemic issues that created a need for AmeriCorps in the first place.
During my service, I longed for the type of project that would illustrate—almost immediately—that an impact had been made. My team traveled to Lynchburg, VA, for a six-week stint with Habitat for Humanity and by the time we’d left, we’d helped the community build six houses on what had before been vacant lots. You want to talk immediate gratification? That’s what my service was all about.
But—at the risk of sounding jaded—my professional experience has since suggested that building six houses does not solve the low-income housing crisis. Tutoring twenty children does not improve the childhood literacy rate. And delivering clean water to Flint will not stop wealthy populations from watering their lawns in drought-ravaged Southern California.
There are systemic and pervasive issues that many of us may not have had the peripheral vision to see during our initial service, but more than likely have borne witness to over and over again in our professional lives. I wish I could solve all of these problems. But I learned during my service the value of teamwork.
Now—with others—I work toward a more equitable distribution of rich, real world educational practices. Big Picture Learning and Internationals Network for Public Schools together advocate for deeper learning teaching practices that better prepare students for college and career; practices that are not always made available to students of color, immigrant youth, English language learners, and youth in poverty. In doing so, we reject long established notions of learning which suggest that predetermined academic skill levels must be reached before students have the ability to think critically or problem solve.
Which is why I’m reaching out to the community of fellow AmeriCorps alums. Your call to service never truly ended, it just evolved. I invite you to join a group of Deeper Learning Equity Fellows who together will tackle the pervasive issue of education inequity by figuring out and breaking through barriers that prevent deeper learning interventions from occurring in the first place. The first 10 Equity Fellows have already begun this difficult, but important, work. We’re looking for the next 20 emerging equity leaders who wish to join them in this journey.
A requirement of the fellowship is that applicants be nominated by a leader in the field of education and/or equity. As a special incentive to AmeriCorps alumni, we invite you to bypass the nomination process and feel free to nominate yourself. You may access this special application by visiting this webpage and entering the code EqFellows when prompted.
Equity Fellows are leaders who can amplify underrepresented voices and perspectives. The program provides these leaders with networking opportunities and the chance to reflect on the unique ways that they can strengthen and shape the future of educational excellence. Participants will learn from, support, and challenge each other as they enhance their own leadership skills. The program requires 16 days onsite for three seminars over two years, and a Deeper Learning capstone project. Participation will be without cost to participants or their organizations. Visit this page for more information on criteria and benefits of the fellowship.
If education is truly the civil rights issue of our time, equity must be at the cornerstone. Heed the call and apply to be an Equity Fellow today.
Author Bio: Chris Jackson is the Chief Communications Officer for Big Picture Learning, an organization that for the last 20 years had worked steadfastly toward putting students at the center of their own learning. He was also a Class V AmeriCorps NCCC member, based out of Washington, D.C.