At the Dell Scholars Program, I work every day to support low-income, first-generation students to college graduation. And as a low-income, first-generation student myself, I can relate to the challenges our Dell Scholars face. I know how important timely interventions, small nudges in the right direction, financial support and counseling all are in helping students to stay on track for graduation.
One of the joys of teaching reading is witnessing moments when children first realize they are readers and the world is available to them in new and exciting ways. More than any other skill, literacy changes life trajectories. It helps us set students on the path to success. In fact, studies show first grade reading achievement is a reliable predictor of outcomes as distant as the 11th grade.
While the number of children and youth in foster care comprise a small number of the total student population in Texas, their difficulties are boundless. These difficulties include, chaotic lives filled with danger and extreme neglect. Additionally, the educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care are meager compared to the general child population. These outcomes include higher school suspensions and expulsions, grade repeats, poor attendance, lower scores on state assessments, and higher school dropout rates.
The problems plaguing Texas’ system for child protection seem to be on everyone’s mind. As Nichole Aston discussed in her latest blog, there are far too many children in Central Texas facing serious neglect, abuse, and/or family violence. Children sleep in state agency offices due to lack of foster homes, live in unsafe and unsanitary residential centers, and fall prey to traffickers. How do we all come together to fix an issue and a system so huge and so laden with problems?
The abuse, neglect, and abandonment some children endure is often unimaginable and inhumane. They arrive at shelters, treatment centers, and foster homes traumatized and many have behavioral and mental health issues as a result. They have learned to survive by using anger, violence, and emotional detachment. Many have school related issues and learning disorders, various forms of mental and physical issues, and some have post-traumatic stress disorder at rates higher than military and war veterans. These are preventable, community health and societal problems that need to be addressed.
Like many states, Texas has a quickly growing English Language Learner student population – and educators serving these students face increasingly complex regulatory requirements to track student interventions and outcomes.
One of the questions we are continuously grappling with is how to maximize the impact of our giving. We want to know that the products or services we are investing in actually meet the needs of beneficiaries. To this end, we are learning that the market can serve as a powerful mechanism to ensure that products or services are responsive to and meet the needs of beneficiaries.
It is an exciting time in India. Disruptive ideas along with inspirational talent are changing the way social problems are being addressed. A new breed of for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs are busting myths and aggressively pushing the boundaries to challenge the status quo and to test ideas that have never been tried before.
In 2011, our India team came across two brilliant young brothers in Bangalore – Harsha and Soorya Mahabala – who had formed an organization called Edutel. The two brothers discovered they could broadcast lessons from high-quality teachers to affordable private schools across urban and rural Bangalore using spare government satellite bandwidth.
For first-generation students, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to college success. From mentorship to financial aid, there are a multitude of supports that contribute to the success of students getting to – and through – college.