“In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.”
I thought often of these words from Franklin Delano Roosevelt during a week in mid-August, a week where nearly 400 people united together at our annual Kick-Off to celebrate and focus on a vision of a country where each of us has the chance to improve our lives, regardless of income, race, religion, gender or any other characteristic not tied to ability and determination. As one people, the staff and AmeriCorps service members of College Possible renewed their commitment to serving our students and to building a network of college graduates who will change their lives, their communities and our nation.
Each of us brought a different background to Kick-Off: the AmeriCorps member who, after coaching for one year in Portland, was so transformed by his students that he chose to renew his service for a second year; the AmeriCorps VISTA who turned down a lucrative first job to devote one year to serving students from low-income backgrounds in the public schools of Chicago; or the Milwaukee high school graduate who went on to graduate from college, land his first job and deliver a keynote speech. While we brought different backgrounds, we each shared one desire: to watch our students thrive.
Each of us, for that week, was reminded that the seemingly insurmountable task of ensuring educational equity in America is not up to one of us. It is up to all of us. And when we come together each year and feel the collective power of our actions and voices, we are reminded that the task is not insurmountable. We can make a difference. We are making a difference. Because together, we thrive.
by Lisa Guyott