Times of transition, and in particular the transition we are all experiencing with the Presidential election, often create significant emotional reactions. Some of us feel encouraged, while others feel despair. And identifying how we as individuals can make our own positive impact can be overwhelming. I read recently that voting in an election in many ways is the least we can do, and I believe that the most we can do is to personally work to bring about the change that we want to see in our world. There has been significant talk of voters in this election who feel left behind, who have no voice, and who saw their vote as a means to disrupt a system that isn’t working for them. I think this is a critical conversation for our country to have, but I hope the conversation will include all of the voiceless in our country. There are 498,000 public school students in Dallas County. 358,560 of them qualify for free or reduced lunch. The City of Dallas has the highest child poverty rate of large cities in America. These students overwhelmingly start kindergarten more unprepared than students in more affluent suburbs, and the gap only grows from there. The impacts of poverty, especially when combined with race and an inequitable distribution of resources, magnify these effects. The hope of these kids escaping the cycle of poverty without intervention is extremely small. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education." And while supporting a child’s education is critical, it is also important to develop our own understanding of these challenges at a deeper, personal level. This type of insight can be gained through what Bryan Stevenson refers to as “proximity;” understanding these communities better by actually working with them. And so we encourage and invite you to join Commit! and actively participate in creating more equitable and effective educational opportunities in our community. Something as simple as being a reading tutor in an elementary school can take just one hour per week, but can positively impact a child’s future. Children reading on grade level by 3rd grade are much more likely to graduate from high school. The Commit! Partnership is active across North Texas with more than 190 partners, including public school districts, non-profit organizations, foundations and higher-ed institutions, working together to benefit students in measurable ways throughout Dallas County, from cradle to career. If you are looking for a way that you can make a difference in the lives of kids right here in our community, fill out this form and we’ll reach out and work to help connect you with an opportunity that matches your skills, interests and availability.