In 2001, while a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University in Cambridge, I was asked to lead a one semester study to uncover the answer to this question:
Luckily, our research was made easy by the fact that we had the perfect laboratory right in front of us:18 first-generation Latino students from poor families attending and succeeding at one of the toughest institutions in the world–all while their families and friends were living in conditions under which their life had little hope of improving.
By semester’s end we had the answer:
In every case, someone had intervened in the child’s life and planted a foreign thought, and thus, a new expectation: “You are going to college.” All the Harvard students credited either a teacher or a parent with setting that expectation – one that became real in their minds. And real in their life.
The way to solve the problem became obvious:
In designing YOKC, we have taken that learning, packaged it, tested it, and refined it. So that now, that new expectation with full curriculum can be delivered daily in classrooms and in the home three times a week.
Of course, not every child will go to Harvard. Not every child will or should attend traditional college. Still every child should be motivated to pursue whatever education they choose beyond high school. Let’s begin by having every student and every parent set higher educational expectations. For themselves. And for the their family. It can change the world.
Yes! Our Kids Can was established in 2016 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit to operate as a social enterprise. Its primary goal is to help every parent and every teacher create an expectation of success and prosperity in the mind of every disadvantaged child in a way that is measurable, scalable and affordable.