If you look anywhere on the web today, you’re almost guaranteed to find a story on education reform. In fact, many of my blog posts talk about the same topic. While this is not necessarily a main factor that MBA applicants use in picking a program, today business schools are spending more time and resources on their social enterprise departments. Schools like Stanford that offer the joint MBA and M.Ed. Schools like Yale, reknowned for their nonprofit recruiting. And schools like Kellogg that have an entire department dedicated to Social Enterprise.
Well just last week, the latest edition of the Merger came out. Written by Medill student Nicole Koetting, this version featured an article written about the Education Matters Project. See below for the article.
Title: Fortune Favors the Bold
Author: Nicole Koetting
It all started when Jeremy C. Wilson read an article by Peter Thiel that said that going to college didn’t matter. It was the spring of 2011, and I was bothered by the article. Education had been very important in Wilson’s life, and he didn’t agree with Thiel’s argument that higher education was essentially useless.
“I wish I could talk to every student for five minutes to tell them, education matters; and education is worth fighting for. I know because I fought for it myself,” Wilson said He talked with other people about the piece and Thiel’s ideas. Then, suddenly, an idea came to Wilson in a flash. He should do something about it.
Now, Wilson, along with a team of Northwestern students and a host of volunteers, has started the Education Matters Project, a non-profit organization with a pretty big mission: “To change the way humankind views the benefits of education and to help fund a better education for students who need it most.”.
Modeled after the It Gets Better campaign, the Education Matters Project website uses videos of role models and students who tell their stories and why they believe that education mattered in their lives.
The Education Matters Project’s aspirations seem to be three-fold: At the organization’s core is changing how the world views education. If everyone had equal access to receive a good education, the Education Matters Project posits, the world would be a better place.
Secondly, the Education Matters Project wants to inspire disadvantaged junior high and high school students to continue their education. “It’s always going to be easier to quit,” a “Welcome to the Education Matters Project” blog post says. “It’s always going to be easier to say no, to stay home, and to stop trying. The problem is, it’s also easier to fail than it is to succeed. That’s what makes it success. We here at Education Matters want to help you understand that working hard and getting the best education you can is critical to becoming the best version of yourself.”
Of course, it’s not that easy: even if disadvantaged high school students stayed in school and were accepted by a college, going to college costs a lot of money. Wilson and the other Education Matters Project team members understand that. Their third objective reflects that discrepancy: the organization wants to be able to give underprivileged students who want to go to college the money to be able to do it. The Education Matters Project will eventually crowd-fund scholarships for students from low-income families who cannot afford it. Donors will be able to give money to specific students through the website, and will be updated on their student’s success.
As of today, the website hasn’t officially launched yet, but the project has over 100 videos and written pieces, as well as hundreds of photos from people who say that education does matter, and those numbers are growing more every day. Wilson’s video was the first one.
Education is a very personal subject for Wilson. He grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where the poverty rate was nearly 50% and very few people considered going to college.. Wilson’s parents were the ones who pushed him through school. Wilson says, “They imagined me and my sister getting a good education and attending the best schools in the world, even though nobody game them the same opportunity.” He noted that they jumped on a greyhound and fled Youngstown and moved to west to Arizona in search of opportunity..
They were right. Wilson ended up going to Stanford University, where he majored in Anthropology. Now, as a graduate student who knows how difficult it is for students from low-income families to go to college, he’s made it his personal mission, through the Education Matters Project, to inspire students to go to college, and fund them.
For the short term, Wilson wants the Education Matters Project to target junior high and high school students to show them the potential they can achieve if they pursue a higher education. But in the long run, he wants to make education more equal – he wants all students, whether from high-income or low-income families, to be able to go to college if they want to.
As for what the start-up organization needs right now, Wilson says, “At the heart of what we want to get is as many stories as possible. After that, we need to find a way to get the world’s attention. Because the more people that look, the more fundraising we can do.”
Wilson ended by saying, “There’s never been a more pivotal time to show the world that education still matters.”