Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Changing Headlines

by Tom Bartlett, City Year Washington, DC Associate Board Member
Strategic Workforce Planning - Global Corporate Citizenship, The Boeing Company

As a person who works in the education space from a corporate citizenship role, I'm constantly bombarded with news about the dismal situation of our country's education system. Headlines highlight the latest studies: scores are down, students are dropping out, teachers and administrators are at odds with one another, more cuts are on the way and our competitiveness as a nation hovers on the brink. Perhaps most egregious of all, the achievement gap between the haves and have-nots continues to's pretty gloomy stuff, really.

It's time to change our perspective. It's time to create a new headline...but how?

Amidst all the negative statistical noise, City Year is one of those few organizations out there creating real positive outcomes for our children and young adults at a systemic level. If you're looking for the proof of those outcomes, just check out the June 21 post. The fact is that City Year DC is making a difference here in our local community, just as it is in the other 21 major urban locations around the country. But how do we engage our community to better understand that message and who can tell it?

In step the City Year DC Associate Board. This newly created board is here to help take the great work of the City Year corps members and staff and deliver it to a whole new audience. Comprised of energetic young and mid-career professionals from all sectors and backgrounds, we are responsible for attracting our peers to this amazing organization. In essence, we're here to spread a new message (a new headline) and connect other young professionals with us in service. We intend to mobilize this vast resource in our community by organizing awareness, fundraising and community service events that will inspire people to action. We're also here to bring even more support to the corps members. We serve as mentors and coaches to the young adults who will move on after their year of service to become change-agents elsewhere.

And for me, this is at the heart of why I serve on the Associate Board. Three years ago, when I attended my first City Year fundraising event, I was overwhelmed by the energy and spirit the corps members brought to the until-then dry meeting. I knew instantly that these young adults were the key to bringing change to our cities' classrooms. I immediately wanted to become an advocate for these amazing people and the organization that represented them. I recognized these near-peer corps members were able to not only help students improve their proficiency in math and literacy, they're able provide a new vision of success for students who never believed success in life was possible. My deep-rooted passion for helping others create positive change in their communities is met with an equally fierce passion coming from the corps members. In turn, these young leaders have become my friends, my counterparts and my role models as well.

And I'm just one voice on our Associate Board. Collectively, I believe we have the power to engage a vast majority of the young professional community in DC. So look for big things to come out of our board and CYDC this next school year. With a development year behind us and even more amazing candidates joining our ranks, we're poised to create several positive headlines in our community.

We're changing our perspective - will you join us?

For more information about City Year Washington, DC's Associate Board please contact Individual Giving Manager Shannon Young at or (202) 742-7397.

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