The economic divide in this country is astounding — the Walton family alone possess more wealth than the bottom 42% of families combined! One of the most apparent and troubling manifestations of this wealth gap is the access to higher education. To overcome this chasm will require more than just resources — we need to help students see possibilities, and Global Academic Achievement (GAA) is working hard to do just that through our scholarships and student support programs.
The wealth divide that is stifling this country disproportionately affects Kids from poor, urban communities. What is seen as an economic gap on macro level translates to an inspiration gap on the level of individual kids. There are many issues that contribute to an economically disadvantaged student’s underachievement: hunger, transience, gangs, violence in the home, etc. Many of these issues are beyond the power of a student to control. But what they can control is their personal goals/ their vision/ their outlook for their own future. And to make it out of poverty, the ticket is higher education; a college degree has a positive impact on wages and the unemployment rate.
Despite the importance of an education, most poor kids nationwide idolize not physicists, astronauts, social entrepreneurs and innovators, but sports heros. While kids may fantastically think they have a shot at someday making the pros, the odds are stacked against them: only about 3-6% of high school athletes will play in college and only 3-6% of those will get drafted. Fewer still make a roster. So, why do so many poor urban kids answer professional athlete when asked what they aspire to? It’s the message — these kids are internalizing the wrong message because of the glamorization of professional sports and the pervasiveness of sports marketing. How about we give them the right message — that getting a good education gives you the best chance of succeeding in life. Let’s level the playing field.
GAA Fund is teaming up with the Several School Districts in California to pilot Operation 4.0. This unique initiative is equal part scholarship competition and public relations campaign, that has potential to positively impact every student in the district. The objective is to put the concept of academic merit on par with athletic prowess, by guaranteeing scholarships to top students. Beyond the financial benefit to those who qualify, hundreds/ perhaps thousands, of other students will be inspired to set higher academic goals for themselves.
As our message spreads we hope not only to raise millions for deserving/ aspiring college students, but to level the playing field — so students who achieve academically at a high level will have the same opportunities as those that excel on the athletic field.