The Future Project, A National Innovation Corps–of Students.

Well, on top of various other reasons, the text messages I received after I tweeted this has compelled me to write a post about what that was all about. As I mention in my new post, “How Blogging & Social Media Changed My Life,” this blog has taken me further than ever anticipated. One of my friends tweeted at me: “just saw your protest list on Parents and Students Against Standardized Testing, looks like you’re hitting the big time!” I laughed, but surprisingly, this list was in fact getting in the hands of a lot of great people.

I received an e-mail with the subject, “The Future Project.” Never hearing about this before, I had no idea what this could be. Then I became ecstatic. The fact that the executive director of an organization was contacting me at all, just from something on my blog, had me in shock. Although the list took me a week to put together, it still seemed like something so simple. I never thought it would be attracting such recognized organizations.

On their Mission page the first pargraph states:

We are building America’s first National Innovation Corps. We recruit the most passionate, promising young Americans dedicated to transforming schools into places where all things are possible, and dispatch them into the most historically underserved schools and neighborhoods across the nation. The Future Project launched in October 2011 in New York, Washington, D.C., and New Haven.

But, as I learned through my research with StudentsFirst, I knew I couldn’t be too happy too soon. I ran the inspection–who is funding this organization, who is on their team, what other organizations are they associated and partnered with, basically anything that would give away that this is just another corporate funded initiative with no understanding of education or genuine concern for students at all.

With that being said, I responded to his e-mail saying I would love to connect and become involved with their organization.

As deep as I researched, I found they have all the right initiatives, funded by donors such as New York University and Metropolitan Museum of Art, their Program Advisors come from varied backgrounds such as professors of Psychology, Education, and Management–I kept searching, no red flags.

The meeting, as you can tell from my Tweet above, was wonderful. I got to see a few parts of their office which was hands down the coolest office I will probably ever go into (and it’s located in NYC, the city I want to live and work in when I get older, it was already a dream location!) But, aside from the office, discussing the work they do is what really got me head over heels. Basically what they do is go into under-served schools, have “coaches” (college students, graduate students, or young professionals) work with students on a project of their choice. And the projects students have come up with really convey how much creativity and drive students are capable of having. For instance, if you watch the video featured below (only 4 minutes long, highly recommend you watch) you will see examples of projects such as a student who started a suicide prevention campaign, Live Life, another who had a fashion and talent show to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and of course, how the Executive Director came across my blog, a student running a campaign to Save Legacy School of Integrated Studies–and those are just to name a few.

What I love so much about The Future Project is that it is student focused. Students do not have to suppress what they are genuinely interested in, this gives them the opportunity to implement change in their community that they want to see. This digs into their intrinsic motivation, something I feel our current and future generations are starting to lose touch with. In addition, The Future Project is not about grades or scores on a test, it something so much greater than that. And as you know how I advocate very strongly for recognizing the true capacity of the human being and taking limits off our minds, it is hard not to fall in love with this new organization. I am terrified of what our education system is increasingly turning into (results-driven, making students live up to these “core standards,” etc.) I’m scared that we are raising future generations where innovation and creativity are rare–The Future Project is hope.

The other major reason I support The Future Project is because of the schools they choose to work with. Since educational equity issues are what led me to create this blog in the first place, their work in underserved schools gives them 500+ stars in my book. The Future Project is empowering students who many often forget to acknowledge.

Well, there you have it. That is why I was so excited my friends. I got to meet a phenomenal organization with its main focus on empowering students. I strongly support and believe in these initiatives, and would love to see this project be seen in every state. But of course, considering they have only been running for a year, we’ve got to continue to think local!

They are currently located in New York, Conneticut, and Washington, DC. Please visit their page to learn more and become more involved.

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