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Talent Thursday: 3 Lessons Students Can Learn from Election Day

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist Connect with me via. LinkedIn Election day occurs the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Yeah...Thank goodness, it's just words we have to decipher and not a complicated calculus equation. Regardless, on that day, voters report to pre-determined polling locations and cast their ballot for various public officials. Now remember, United States is a constitutional federal republic, meaning that U.S. citizens elect public officials and these officials represent U.S. citizens' needs and concerns. That's kind of a big deal if you can't tell. So naturally, people aren't waking up on Election Day thinking "yeah I'll bubble in C all the way down" or "I'll just copy the ballot choices from the guy next to me" or "I will choose the longest name because it's more likely the correct answer". Don't send villagers with pitchforks after me, but this may be something that high school and college students may be doing on exams, while choosing majors, etc. Ahem...so without further ado, here are some lessons students can learn from Election Day: The importance of Deadlines. Not sure if you know, but you have to register to vote. If you are registered to vote in Dallas, Texas, then that is the only place where you can vote as that's how your precinct and polling location is determined. Obviously, there is a deadline to register. If you don't register by that deadline, then you will have to wait until the next Election Day. Similarly, high school students have college application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, assignment and exam deadlines. College students have internship application deadlines, FAFSA deadlines, classes registration deadlines, and of course, assignment and exam deadlines. You must plan accordingly to meet and/or beat these deadlines. Otherwise, you missed your chance and will have to wait until next time. And, that's a bummer! The importance of Researching and Making Informed Decisions. Voters must do their research on the candidates that are running for office. They must consider the issues that the candidates are challenging, as well as the candidate's party platform. Then, in accordance to their research, voters cast their ballots. Similarly, high school and college students must do their research prior to "casting a vote" for which college to attend or for what loans and financial aid to accept. They must also do their research on what major to study- finding the job outlook for that major, industry trends, soft and hard skills needed, the length of time in school for a certain profession, etc. There's a quote I recently read that sums up the which-major-to-choose-pandemonium: "choose a major you love and you'll never work a day in your life because that field probably isn't hiring". As explicated, you must do your research when choosing a major if you want to get a job upon graduation. Students must also do their research when applying for internships and jobs- research about the company and the position. Only then can students write well-crafted resumes and do well on interviews. [...]

Changing the Odds Conference Recap

On October 9, the Commit! Partnership had the opportunity to attend the Changing the Odds Conference put on by Momentous Institute, powered by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. The conference brought together hundreds of educators, mental health professionals and others who work with children to collaborate and share innovative ideas to help reach thousands of children across the state. Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times best-selling author, focused his opening talk on the concept of “capitalization rate,” the percentage of people who actually end up achieving their full potential. Gladwell argued the capitalization rate is the best measure of a nation’s health, yet compared to other developed nations, America rates consistently low by this measure. Gladwell gave three main reasons for this: 1) we make the mistake of thinking that talent is scarce; 2) we mistakenly believe that talent is innate; and 3) our view of how talent is developed is far too narrow. Gladwell ended with a call to action to change how we approach the development of talent because that is how future generations will judge our impact on the nation and the world. Tony Wagner, Expert in Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, built off of Gladwell’s call to action by discussing the importance of teaching students to be innovators. Wagner pointed out three challenges for education in today’s world: 1) knowledge is no longer a commodity because of the internet; 2) we are preparing students for a changing workplace and workforce; and 3) we must encourage students to be more motivated to learn. Wagner argued that teaching students to use the available knowledge to innovatively solve problems can address all of these challenges. Wagner also gave actionable implications for teachers and schools. He called for educators to teach and assess the skills that matter most, like problem solving, by allowing students to keep digital portfolios that show the progress of their work. Classes could be taken as credit/no credit to encourage students to build skills instead of focusing on grades. Additionally, Wagner stated that we should fund educational R&D that allows teachers to innovate together in a collaborative setting. Finally, he encouraged teachers to bring structured “Google Time” into classrooms that would allow students to explore projects of their own choosing. Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer for Expeditionary Learning, then gave examples of schools that are implementing some of the suggestions Wagner offered. Berger stated that students need to have a mission, which allows them to contribute value to their community and school. This builds the idea that you become smarter so that you can do good, which gives students a life-long motivation to continue their education. Berger gave multiple examples of schools that allowed students to explore content in ways that impacted the community around them. He charged us to stop just thinking about the capacity kids have to do great things when they grow up and start realizing kids have the capacity to do great things right now with our support. Expeditionary Learning publishes all [...]

First Generation Go College!

You’re invited to the Go College! National Tour with a free red-carpet screening of the 1-hour version of the award-winning documentary First Generation on October 30 at the Angelika Film Center at 6:00pm! Narrated by Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, First Generation tells the story of four high school students - an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter of migrant field workers - who set out to break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to their families and communities by pursuing a college education. Stick around after the movie for an open dialogue with the filmmakers, cast, Kyle Gardner from the Commit! Partnership, Michele Bobadilla from the UTA Office of the Vice Provost and Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and a Wells Fargo Education Financial Services representative to learn about steps that can be taken today to make college a reality for all low-income and first generation students. KERA News Reporter/Blogger Stella Chavez will serve as moderator for the panel. This screening is a chance for university officials, college access organizations and higher education advocates to network with one another and mingle with local students, families, and educators. Arrive early to chat with local non-profit leaders, scholarship representatives, and college admission officers. Plus, take home information on finding a mentor, choosing a college, scholarships, and more! Please spread the word about this valuable opportunity. For more information and to RSVP go to: http://firstgenerationfilm.com/gocollegedates Also, join the conversation online using #GoCollege and #WFCollegeTour

College Football Playoff Teams Up With DonorsChoose.org to Help Funding of Extra Yard for Teachers

Crowdfunding non-profit enables college football fans across the nation to help classrooms in need IRVING, Texas – The College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation announced today that it will partner with DonorsChoose.org to support education through the CFP’s Extra Yard for Teachers initiative. “We are honored to team up with DonorsChoose.org to assist in the awareness of the College Football Foundation’s philanthropic initiative, Extra Yard for Teachers,” said Bill Hancock Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. “With the resources and outreach available through DonorsChoose.org, we have an opportunity for a significant effect not only in our local community, but in classrooms across the country.” Extra Yard for Teachers consists of four program components: direct provision of resources, teacher recognition, inspiring a college-going culture, and professional development and leadership training. Through its partnership with DonorsChoose.org, the College Football Playoff Foundation will have the tools necessary to provide and direct financial support to assist public school teachers with classroom project requests. “Great college football starts in our schools, and too many teachers lack the resources their students need to prepare for a college education,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. “We’re thrilled to have the College Football Playoff Foundation helping us mobilize football fans nationwide to support teachers in high-need classrooms across America.” To help support the College Football Foundation’s nationwide initiative Extra Yard for Teachers, visit www.donorschoose.org/college-football-playoff today. From August 4 through August 31, individuals who donate at least $10 through this link will be placed into a drawing to win two tickets to the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship to be played January 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. For more information on how you can get involved, please contact Shawn Moore, the College Football Playoff’s Director of Community Relations, at smoore@collegefootballplayoff.com or visit http://www.collegefootballplayoff.com/foundation. -30- About DonorsChoose.org Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. At this nonprofit website, teachers at half of all the public schools in America have created project requests, and more than a million people have donated $247 million to projects that inspire them. All told, 11 million students—most from low-income communities, and many in disaster-stricken areas—have received books, art supplies, field trips, technology, and other resources that they need to learn. Visit www.donorschoose.org/intro to hear Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert tell the DonorsChoose.org story. About the College Football Playoff The College Football Playoff will begin with the 2014-15 season. The semifinals will match the No. 1 seed vs. No. 4, and No. 2 will face No. 3 in semifinal games that will rotate annually among the Peach Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. The first semifinals will be January 1, 2015, at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The first national championship game will be January 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

College Access/Success Internship Fall 2014

This fall the Commit! Partnership is seeking passionate and dedicated interns interested in learning about education on a countywide level. Our staff encourages interns to take leading roles in many ongoing projects, offering interns the opportunity to a foot in the door of education policy in Dallas County. The Commit! Partnership was founded in 2012 to leverage data and collaboration to address significant challenges in education and help drive student achievement across Dallas County. Based on the Strive model for collective impact, which first originated in Cincinnati and has spread to 90+ communities across the country, Commit! represents one of the nation’s largest regions, serving over 800,000 students between the ages of 0 and 22. The intern should expect: To work hard and be challenged To work with people of all personalities and backgrounds To be flexible in a fast-paced environment The Fall Internship is a $10/hr, 10-week program (some tasks can be completed remotely). You will help drive one or more key projects scoped out based on your interests and Commit!’s needs. Potential projects include: Marketing and communications: Implement and revise a communications plan to increase awareness of college affordability and related events and initiatives; including grassroots outreach and written material. Active role in event planning. Data systems: Creating and working in MS Excel databases for analysis to drive decisions and direction of work. Development and membership: Researching fundraising opportunities, analyzing member and donor data, and writing case studies to support development efforts. Qualifications we seek: Undergraduate junior or senior or graduate student Strong academic record Self-starter who can multitask and manage time effectively Excellent oral and written communication skills; excellent quantitative skills a big plus Flexibility to take on a variety of projects—including those involving data, writing, and research Comfort with all Microsoft Office products (especially PowerPoint); InDesign a plus Ability to work independently and collaboratively on a team Humor, integrity, and patience Believe in education’s power to improve odds for all children in service of Commit!’s mission The College Access/Success Community Outreach Intern is responsible for implementing a quality, well-rounded and successful marketing and advertising plan for specific events as well as an overarching communication plan for lifting up college readiness and success in Dallas County. The intern will assist with event coordination and related tasks for projects including: community-wide financial aid workshops, a college affordability campaign, texting reminder program for high school students. Implement an encompassing communications plan for college access events, activities, and initiatives; including grassroots outreach and written material: Work with marketing staff to implement customizable marketing materials for the event and volunteer recruitment (flyers, social media messages, marquee messages, morning announcement messages, sample newsletter articles) Write media relations materials (press releases, PSAs, op-eds) and assist with media and community outreach Build out communication with professional network members through email/website: Establish a newsletter to be sent out on a regular basis – announcements, resources, news, jobs, meeting information Write and send newsletter for duration with Commit! Assist with meeting/event planning for professional network Create [...]

If you’re the right flavor of teacher, Texas has a deal for you

By Jeffrey Weiss The Dallas Morning News JWeiss@dallasnews.com 5:45 pm on July 30, 2014 | Permalink There’s a federal loan forgiveness program that can be used to recruit teachers in content areas where there’s a shortage. Here are the content areas just certified by the TEA as qualifying: Bilingual/English as a Second Language Career and Technical Education Computer Science English as a Second Language Mathematics Science Special Education – Elementary and Secondary Levels The TEA’s official letter explains the program thusly: The approved shortage areas allow the administrator the ability to recruit and retain qualified teachers and to help reward teachers for their hard work using the loan forgiveness opportunities. School principals can act on behalf of the commissioner of education to certify that a teacher has met the minimum qualifications required for certain loan forgiveness programs. A few more details here.

College Football Playoff and Commit! Team Up for Teachers

If you’re a college football fan, you’re probably already aware that the national championship game will be hosted here in North Texas (at AT&T Stadium to be precise) this coming January. What you may not know is that the newly formed College Football Playoff (CFP) has also launched a philanthropic initiative, Extra Yard for Teachers, to honor and empower teachers nationally and in our host community – specifically in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant Counties. Earlier this year, the folks at CFP invited the Commit! Partnership to help shape this initiative in its first year and create a game plan for future host cities. We are excited to share a number of opportunities in the coming months that will directly benefit local schools, principals, teachers and students. The first opportunity is an effort to support a strong college-going culture for our youngest students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds where the expectation of college may not be as prevalent as in other communities. Extra Yard for Teachers has agreed to supply free college banners for every classroom across 500 elementary school campuses (up to 20,000 classrooms in all) across our greater North Texas community. For principals interested in accessing this resource, we have launched a very short application form here. Submissions will be reviewed in the order received, and we only ask that selected schools share a couple of pictures displaying their use of the banners. Through pep rallies, alumni visits, college chants, and more, elementary schools across the country have incorporated visible college imagery as part of a broader strategy to get children thinking about college early. On the webpage, we’ve included some ideas on how schools can utilize these free banners to help spur and/or complement other campus initiatives that reinforce a college-going expectation and atmosphere for all students. In the fall, we plan to offer a similar opportunity in support of middle and high school teachers who want to make local college visits possible for their students. As the January 12 championship game nears, we also anticipate the fulfillment of a significant amount of local classroom projects created on DonorsChoose.org. We look forward to sharing these opportunities and more in the months to come and invite you to join the excitement of the inaugural College Football Playoff. In the meanwhile, contact Christian Yazdanpanah at Christian.Yaz@commit2dallas.org with any questions you may have.

Support Students through the College Process!

High school students, college students, and parents – make your voice heard! We want to include student and parent perspectives in discussions about college advising experiences. Did you know by 2030, about 60% of jobs in the local workforce will require some type of post-secondary degree? To produce enough qualified students to fill these jobs, we need to utilize our collective brainpower to understand how best to support students. Commit! will take what we learn to help us understand how community partners in the Dallas area can better support students through the college process from search to enrollment regardless of whether the end goal is a two-year or four-year college (or both!).

5-Minute Professional Development: Brush Up on Your FAFSA/TASFA Knowledge

Calling all high school counselors, college advisors, and mentors! Now is the time for seniors and current college students to file their financial aid forms. Commit! and TG have teamed up to bring you an online video presentation with everything you need to know about the financial aid process. Take a five-minute break and brush up on one of the many topics covered by Richard Sapp, TG’s director of Pre-College Success: Visit www.commit2dallas.org/2014FinancialAid Divided into nine short chapters, the training covers: financial aid basics, unique student scenarios, and how to help students complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA). Learn more about TG by visiting http://www.tgslc.org/. To receive related updates on college access, email Sarah.Jensen@commit2dallas.org.

Hot Off the Presses: Our 2013 Community Achievement Scorecard

This week the Commit! Partnership proudly released its 2013 Community Achievement Scorecard. Focused on our collective ability to support Dallas County’s 800,000+ students on their journey from cradle to career, this year’s version includes some important new elements: Dallas County’s performance relative to the State of Texas Analysis of achievement gaps based on poverty and language status Disaggregated achievement data by race & ethnicity and english learning ability More detailed local data related to Early Childhood, Grades 4-12 and Higher Education We encourage everyone in our community to ready, study and share this scorecard. Need a few highlights to get you motivated? What happens here matters. One out of every 100 students in the United States is educated in Dallas County. Dallas County’s demography is changing. The minority is not what we once considered it – today, 80% of our students are Hispanic or African American, and we need to focus on these populations accordingly. Additionally, with more than 72% of our students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, poverty is pervasive – it’s not just an “inner city” problem, poverty affects all of our communities. Early childhood development/education is the most critical and effective point for intervention. The data is irrefutable – early childhood is the stage in which we can have the most impact when it comes to improving educational odds for our children. If you’re going to place a bet, put it on early childhood education. What’s more, we have the resources to address this problem. Check out this recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News to learn more about how our community can act together for the sake of our youngest learners. Our students need to be better prepared for college/the workforce. We must ensure that our students are prepared to take advantage of every opportunity after high school by having the resources and support they need access and maximize those opportunities. Given the resources that we have dedicated, far too many students are leaving our education system unprepared to succeed at the next level. Download your copy by clicking below! Questions or requests related to the scorecard? Please email info@commit2dallas.org.