City Year: If You're Out There

City Year corps members based in Los Angeles write about their experiences.

“We have to stop lying to ourselves that we’re going to keep doing the same things we’ve been doing and think we’re going to get different results.”

On Tuesday, Carmita Vaughan, chief strategy officer of America’s Promise Alliance, exhorted an audience of several hundred to rethink educational strategies. At “In School & On Track,” a national leadership summit hosted by City Year, Vaughan said that Americans had become “masters of incremental results,” celebrating small percentage point increases instead of seeking large-scale reforms.

City Year places 17- to 24-year-olds in service as tutors and mentors in high-poverty schools, working to end the high school dropout crisis. The two-day summit brought together private and corporate sponsors, nonprofits, researchers focused on education, government officials, educators and administrators, and members of the entertainment industry. The diverse group focused on the common goal of better serving the nation’s students, but also discussed strategies to build nonprofits and maximize the impact of both philanthropy and national service.

Vaughan’s comments came from a panel focused on innovative approaches to helping educators and students succeed. During that session, Juan Sepúlveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, discussed the importance of expanding effective models being implemented in niche areas. Sepúlveda asked: "How do we take these ideas and grow them to scale? How do we take these pockets of excellence and take them across the nation?”

The next day, leaders from corporate and entertainment-based philanthropic foundations continued the discussion of strategic growth, focused on supporting effective work, building capacity for successful organizations, and spreading efficient, effective strategies across nonprofits.

Ray Reisler, executive director of the S. Mark Taper Foundation, argued that philanthropy has a responsibility to create diversity by funding innovative ideas, as well as to create long-term databases to sustain impact and build collaboration. “Those things need to be done in addition to just pouring funds,” Reisler said, pointing out City Year as an effective model built on strong leadership, attention to publishing data and sharing impact. Educators and foundations echoed praise for City Year’s staff and corps members, as well as their financial support—$4 million in pledges from school districts and $15.7 million from the private sector.

At Tuesday’s opening luncheon, Raul Vazquez, executive vice president at Walmart, announced a $1.2 million grant to support literacy training for its corps members. On Wednesday, the PepsiCo Foundation announced a pledge of $6 million to support Diplomas Now over the next three years, adding to its original $5 million grant to the program in 2008. The school-turnaround program unites City Year, Communities in Schools, and Talent Development to provide comprehensive support for students most at-risk of dropping out.

The event also highlighted the individual success stories about corps members’ breakthroughs with their students. Those personal, emotional connections to service are the best way to motivate others to serve, said J.J. Abrams, the creator of “Alias” and “Lost.” Abrams appeared in an entertainment industry panel on Wednesday that offered perspectives on mobilizing the nation. In his own work, Abrams uses his own emotional reality as a starting point to reach out to others. Even with films meant to inspire others, he said, the message should be “meaningful but not preachy,” sending out ripples of inspiration.

The summit concluded with a musical performance by John Legend, who wrote and performed the theme song for “Waiting for Superman.” Legend dedicated his final song, “If You’re Out There,” to the volunteers in the audience, urging them to continue their important work.

Audrey Kuo is a City Year corps member based in Los Angeles.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News