Our Foundation is Even Having an Impact on High Schools That Are Not Yet Our Partners

I recently came across a Letter to the Editor that was written in response to an article about the 23 9th graders from Bridgeton High School selected as scholarship recipients for the Give Something Back Foundation.

In the letter, the author — a former New Jersey school board president — challenged his previous school district to up its game if it wants to to mirror the achievements of Bridgeton High School.

We must shift the direction, he said, as he complained about the abysmal graduation rate —74 percent — and the more than 40 students in the district’s high school that have been introduced to the criminal justice system.

He concluded by saying, Dead weight in the administration and guidance department and unreliable teachers, must ‘walk the plank.’

Located an hour from Philadelphia, the city of Bridgeton, NJ, contains some of the most impoverished neighborhoods south of Camden, and one of the highest crime rates in the state.

One of the reasons we selected to partner with Bridgeton High School (BHS) is because of the tremendous support its students receive from the administration and guidance department. In fact, if not for the persistence of Bill Waterman, Bridgeton’s school-to-career counselor, who basically said — Hey, come look at us! You need to come look at us! — honestly we may have not noticed.

Bridgeton High School has a lot to be proud of. According to Kelly Dun, the executive director for the Give Something Back Foundation’s New Jersey program, it has tried to create a culture where school is a safe place, even if the neighborhood isn’t.

Every adult we spoke to seemed so invested in the kids’ success, said Kelly of BHS. In their interviews, we heard it from students, too – that the teachers really care about them.

And so we’ve awarded its 23 student applicants with scholarships for full rides to college. These kids are going to get great reinforcement from BHS’s staff through their high school years, in addition to what our mentoring program will provide. The way I see it, they are a good investment — the type of students we want to send to our partner colleges and universities. I expect great things from them.

As I looked at the photos of the BHS students we selected on the day we announced their scholarships — faces beaming with pride — and when I see a letter to the editor like the one I described above, I think to myself, if only we can help them all!

So I challenge you: Help us help as many kids as we can get to college by donating to the Give Something Back Foundation. We’re on a roll here, and it’s clear to all of us the difference we are making.




GSBF Awards 23 9th Graders Full Scholarships

One week ago today, the Give Something Back Foundation awarded 23 9th graders from Bridgeton High School in Bridgeton, NJ, with a full scholarship to one of its partner colleges in New Jersey: Rowan University, The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University and Saint Peter’s University. Congratulations to these students! And read more about the news of their scholarship on NJ.com, here.

Recognizing the Role School Counselors Play in a Student’s Future

If our country is going to meet President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, then our high school students need more college readiness support than ever.

At the center of the college preparation effort, I’ve come to learn, are high school counselors.

While there are many factors that ultimately contribute to a student’s desire and ability to seek higher education, it’s often the counselors who are educating students about college options and about planning their futures. They are the ones fostering the college-going culture within the schools. And they are the ones who recognize that the sooner they plant these seeds (and not wait until junior year), the sooner the possibilities in a child’s mind can blossom. (more…)

Growing Our Game With Help From Snider Hockey

While I’ve never been on a pair of skates (not a day in my 70 years!), I must say I’m impressed with what skating — particularly ice hockey — has done for the lives of a bunch of underserved kids from the inner cities in Philadelphia.

I’m talking about a program called Snider Hockey, which is run by the nonprofit Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Ed is chairman of Comcast Spectacor and the Philadelphia Flyers. He launched the program years ago with the Philadelphia School District to teach hockey as part of physical education. Before long Ed realized it was much more than hockey these kids were learning, so his foundation created a five-day-a-week after school program that also provides tutors for kids who need academic help. (more…)

Real Life Stories. Real Reasons to Do This Good Work.

There is much to be learned from life’s adversities. I was reminded of this when I read over some of the very candid and inspiring essays submitted by the Give Something Back Foundation’s student applicants.

Part of the application process for a GSBF scholarship — in addition to obtaining recommendation letters and attending in-person interviews with our staff — is to write an essay based on one of three topics presented:

  1. What makes you the interesting person you are?
  2. Explain the impact of an event or activity that has created a change in your life or in your way of thinking.
  3. People “give back” in lots of different ways, big and small. Describe a person who gives back that you admire or who has influenced you a great deal. Tell us why.

The responses the students submitted are stark indicators of how much life these kids have already lived and just how valuable our program will be in giving them a chance that they likely would not otherwise receive: getting to college and graduating in four years without any debt. (more…)