29 February 2008

Because Everyone Deserves An Education

Our last few days in Minnesota were spent freezing to death with Team NAVIGATE and at the High School For Recording Arts. After a pit stop at our AWESOME Mid-West Youth Venture office we headed downtown to meet with the Lead Venturer, Ally and Tech Guru of Team NAVIGATE.

Inspired by their own personal stories as well as the experiences of their close friends and family, they set out to help undocumented high school seniors with college admissions and financial aid across the state of Minnesota. “There is so much bad information out there, and we want to make sure that kids know there is a place for them and that they have options in pursuing a college degree.” These undocumented kids are here not by their own choosing but as a result of decisions made by their parents. They’ve worked hard in school and in most cases, rank in the top 5% of their graduating classes. As senior year comes into full-swing and the college search intensifies, most of these students are either told they cannot go to college or can only go to a community college, which is absolutely not true.

“We understand the situation with immigrants but if a kid who is here not by their own choice wants to get an education so they can be a more productive member of society then shouldn’t they be allowed to,” the Lead Venturer asked me. I had to agree. Education for all, I say, and so do they. They’re online as well. Check them out at www.NavigateMN.org.

Then we headed east to St. Paul (apparently there is a huge rivalry and no, the two cities are NOT actually one giant city with the same central downtown. Be prepared for ritual mocking should you make the same mistake I did). Our destination was The High School For Recording Arts, a charter-esque school offering musically oriented teenagers the opportunity to incorporate singing, recording and producing into their curriculum (they also let me have some studio time and lets just say, with a little synthesizing, anyone can sound like Britney Spears – no joke).

Ashoka’s Youth Venture has partnered with the school to actually teach a core course where students walk through the process of launching a venture over the course of a semester. I talked to them about the global movement, showed some of our awesome new videos then listened to them talk about what types of Ventures they were hoping to launch.

From a hip hop dance team to a youth-oriented record label that would offer at-risk youth an alternative to gangs and drugs, the whole class was turning their own struggles into real solutions that could help more young people avoid some of the struggles they had overcome. “It’s a blessing to be at this school and to get another chance,” Flo told me. “Now I gotta make the best of it and do good for someone else. That’s what it’s about.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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