The summer of my sophomore year of high school, I decided I wanted to do something good. I was inspired both by my own life experience and by my experience in debate. I realized that I had been given the opportunity for an exceptional educational experience and I wanted to make sure that others also had appropriate educational opportunities.
As the Barkley Forum recognizes with this award, we, as a community of skilled arguers and orators, have great opportunities to help society, and I hope that the Foundation that I established will provide a mechanism for members of the debate community to share the benefits of their education with others.
The non-profit that I established is the Teach to Learn Foundation. Our landmark program is a tutoring program that involves high school students tutoring high school students over the Internet. Our tutors go through a qualification process and the tutees have multiple opportunities to reflect on the services they are receiving. Our second program is a children’s literacy program. It has been proven that childhood literacy is one of the biggest factors affecting success in later years. Our goal is to try and create a passion for reading in children by reading to them on a regular basis and providing them with free books to keep. We target areas where the parents don’t have the resources or the ability to read to their children so we can fill in this crucial gap. Our third program is in the works right now and is targeted at special needs students. The first step is a web-based application for children with autism that helps them learn basic mathematical, social, and practical skills. We also meddle in the research world with a few studies on parental involvement and educational success in progress as we speak.
With the support of many funders and other high school students, we have been able to start three state chapters and are working on expanding our outreach to more areas. All of our workers serve on a volunteer basis and we have a total of approximately 45 long-term volunteers. We have worked with approximately 50 students and are hoping to greatly multiply that number with the help of more funders and volunteers. During my gap year, I hope to expand Teach to Learn to South Korea to work with the underprivileged families in Seoul as well. In fact, we have already begun the legal process there!
As the president of a non-profit, I am inclined to use this audience as a quick call to action. If programs like the UDL are any indication, we as the debate community are inclined towards education based service. If you are interested in working for Teach to Learn or would like to learn more about us, you can find me around this weekend or visit us online at teach-2-learn.org. Thank you!