Humans are hard-wired to be social creatures. Thankfully, we’re also innovative, creative and resourceful. The pandemic has forced us to rely on our resourcefulness to develop ways to socialize online. The health crisis has pushed us to find workarounds and do it quickly, and, for the most part, we’ve met the challenge. In some ways, thanks to platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, we’ve found a way to be more connected than ever before. It’s not the same as an in-person experience, but today everything from virtual yoga classes to virtual church services is available online. We’ve learned that the internet can help us connect, share information and resources, and develop collective solutions to urgent problems.
All over the country, schools and organizations like REAP USA are using digital tools to support and strengthen their offline communities. Students are provided with the tools to develop leadership skills, enhance their academic proficiencies and experience the power of collaboration. They learn how to be effective leaders in their schools and their communities.
Solutions is a 10-month leadership curriculum open to students from all backgrounds and cultures. The program offers a series of interactive leadership modules focused on civics, education, health and business. The program concentrates on specialized, applied approaches to learning, emphasizing writing, speaking, reading and inquiry.
Renaissance is a gender/culturally-specific program that models leadership for young males between 12 and 18 years of age using mentors. The program taps into the participants’ potential to teach leadership through experiences in civic engagement, business and public speaking.
Reflections engages students identified as having disciplinary issues and provides them with the help they need through its intervention program, Elevate. Students receive assistance with schoolwork, help to ensure students receive equal educational opportunities and learn mindfulness techniques to guide them in the best direction possible.
Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) is dedicated to steering students through entrepreneurial education and innovation. Students learn the basics of entrepreneurship, such as developing and implementing a business plan, doing a S.W.A.T. analysis and understanding investment opportunities. The program also works on boosting their public speaking skills and learning how to network to cultivate opportunities.
Unfortunately, access to the internet, computers and updated software isn’t available to all students. A study by Microsoft in 2018 estimated that about half of Americans—163 million people—do not have high-speed internet at home. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) puts the number even higher, noting that as the US races to be the first country to roll out superfast 5G internet connectivity nationwide, 21 million Americans remain without any broadband connection at all in 2017. BroadbandNow, a consumer website, puts the figure at double that. It’s estimated that up to 12 million lower-income and many rural-based kids do not have adequate access to broadband or modern devices, impacting student outcomes and exacerbating economic inequality.
REAP is fundraising to purchase laptops for students to participate in its virtual programming and help identify locations where students can access wi-fi.
Leaders shape, inform and reinforce every aspect of our culture and climate. They strengthen communities. They drive business. They unleash tremendous energy toward a shared purpose and foster the capacity for society to thrive. The roots of leadership are nurtured through a young person’s relationships and life experiences, such as REAP programs. When you Fund the Future, you make it possible for us to provide computers to students, develop and offer innovative programs to ensure the ingredients that will guide our young people to become authentic, strong leaders.