Saturday, May 26, 2018

Community Improvement Scholarships: Shifting Perspectives

It's time in the United States and abroad to shift our individual success perspectives to community growth and development perspectives. At this time of increasing population density, challenges with natural resources, and competition for good living, we can all profit from a shift to greater collaboration over individual pursuit.

There are many ways that we can foster a collaborative spirit in schools and communities.

The move to more distributive leadership and collaborative teams in schools versus the one-teacher-one-classroom and hierarchical approaches to leadership will build capacity as well as greater mentoring to students about what it means to work and lead with collaboration.

Similarly efforts that bring school districts together and synthesize the objectives of multiple disciplines will serve to streamline and empower efforts that elevate good living. For example I am a proponent of letting students use their health plan cards to pay for increased health care at or near schools. By synthesizing education and health care for school-age students we have the potential to increase prevention and needed supports in accessible, beneficial ways.

One more idea which I believe will make a significant difference for communities is to establish community improvement scholarships. At ninth grade students would be introduced to this initiative, an initiative which gives a student a substantial college scholarship with the premise that the student will focus on a community problem during his/her college study and then upon graduation, the student will work for the town or city for a specific amount of time to share his/her research and hopefully implement some good change.

An example of this might be the following. A ninth grader lives in a neighborhood that suffers from inaccessible transportation, and this issue impacts good living in her neighborhood. During her junior year, she examines this issue with greater depth and writes a proposal as part of the scholarship process. In the senior year, she is awarded the scholarship. During college she studies transportation issues both specific to her community and in general. She continues to work on a solution and stays in touch with her local community agencies and leadership. Upon graduation, she begins working with the community transportation agency, shares her research, and works for positive change.

The way many scholarship programs are created now are very limiting, and I believe a scholarship program like this would have a more powerful impact on the individual student as well as the community. Do you agree?