A Graduation Message They’ll Remember

Yesterday the League of Women Voters sent an email with the following quote from Dr Seuss:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

– Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You will Go!

 

NO doubt about it, the advice is relevant to high school and college graduates. But it is also relevant to policymakers. Where we invest resources – time, talent and money, it makes all the difference in the health of the national economy and the communities we live in.

In the last few days I’ve received emails from two graduating college seniors (Savannah College of Art & Design and Morehouse). Both students invested all they had and all they could borrow for their college education. Both students excelled and graduated with honors and recognition. This graduation day would have been very different, if not impossible, had local donors not made it possible to grant these students over $10,000 each to close their financial gap through the Mayor’s Youth Program that I founded as Mayor of Atlanta.

One of the students wouldn’t have been able to quality for a full graduate school scholarship and the other would not be pursuing her dream of becoming a fashion designer among the world’s best. Another student after two years of paying private school tuition decided to transfer to one of Georgia’s top four year universities but she was short a mere $1,400 and without the program it would exceeded her financial capacity. There are hundreds of other Georgia students who if given encouragement and a little bit of time and money, beyond run-of-the-mill student loans, would and could succeed.

There are some great local programs – Project Grad at Atlanta Public Schools and Georgia’s HOPE scholarship come to mind – that help fill some of the financial gaps that some of the 2,000 APS graduates face in attaining post secondary education. As APS thinks about the future strategic plan, post redistricting and “right sizing”, here’s hoping a plan to transition all APS graduating seniors to college, community college and universities is included in their strategy. That’s a graduation message for our city to remember.