Equipping Youth With Real Life Skills

Sultaan Brinkley, center, works on the boat with Jesus Castro, the Artist in Residence, left, Erin Ivey and Mohammed Chowdhury at the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory in Northeast Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

A billionaire philanthropist makes a difference.

Instead of the common core “dumbing down” approach, programs like the following empower our young people with real skills they can use to secure their own future and make an impact in the world!


By Paul Sullivan | Wealth Matters | NY TIMES:     Philanthropists have poured millions of dollars into improving education in the United States — paying for new buildings, buying new computers and even creating new charter schools.

Susan Crown, a member of the billionaire Crown family of Chicago, is trying something different. Two years ago, she began working with organizations that seek to foster character traits like grit, empathy and perseverance, which studies show can be determinants of future success.

After examining hundreds of applications, she picked eight organizations to support and study as part of what she called the Susan Crown Exchange.

The organizations each received $100,000. In return, she asked them to gather three times over the two-year period of the grant to dissect what they were doing and why it had proved successful. Her goal was to find the secret sauce and reveal it to other organizations trying to do similar work.

The organizations selected for the program do not offer typical after-school programs. One brings teenagers together to create, write, produce and act in musicals with themes like sexual abuse, bullying and urban violence. Another teaches inner-city students how to build wooden boats.    Yet these programs seemed to be improving the lives of the small number of participants they served. How were they doing it, and could it be replicated?

Philadelphia Wooden Boat 3a

Brett Hart, executive director of the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, grew up in the same neighborhood and has seen the decline in the education and opportunity there firsthand.

“We are at the front lines of educational inequity,” Mr. Hart said. “Our national response has been to double down on items like Common Core.” But, he said, skills like “the ability to be adaptive, collaborative, resourceful are the tools we need to thrive.”




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