All systems do what they were designed to do and produce what they were designed to produce. Solar systems. Immune systems. Criminal justice systems. School systems. That is why they are called systems. And that is why they are so hard to change. Systems are highly resistant to tinkering and it is almost impossible to change a little without changing a lot. With some skill and understanding of the intricate workings of the system, one can sometimes trick it into responding differently. For example, when someone gets a new heart that they need to live, the immune system works hard to reject the introduction of something new (even if this something is going to save your life). Doctors have to trick the immune system into accepting the new organ. Even then, there is chance that the immune system, which is just doing what it was designed to do, will reject what it sees as invasive and threatening.
School systems are every bit as naturally defensive and structurally impenetrable as any other system. They reflect the ethos, values and beliefs of the society that created them- especially of those who benefit from them. Here at MeckEd, we recognize that school systems were not designed to provide the navigational supports to those students who, for any number of reasons, lack the social capital or the skills and experiences to navigate the complex, interconnected web of relationships and opportunities that are often taken for granted in more advantaged or well-resourced environments. We don’t blame the system. In fact, we don’t blame anybody or anything. We just know that the only way to ensure the success of those young people who face obstacles that limit their access to opportunity is to dig in and systematically remove those obstacles. The road to success not only requires a road map, the road requires field guides—navigators who know the language, the shortcuts, and the way over or around obstacles. That is exactly what MeckEd’s Career Pathways Advisors do for young people who often, don’t even know they have options, much less have a road map and the navigational tools that will lead to a bright future.
MeckEd’s distinctive focus on transforming the lives of young people who face obstacles that limit their access to opportunity operates both within and beyond the system. For us, it’s personal. We know the young people at Vance, Garinger, Harding, and Independence who participate in our programs. We order and pay for their Uber rides back and forth to their internships; help them develop soft skills, to dress appropriately; and allow them to use computers instead of cell phones to complete job applications. And we stay with them through their first year after graduating from high school to ensure that they have what they need to be successful—including stepping in to speak with their employers, instructors, and their families. We are especially available for each and every one of them, when necessary, to address and remove unanticipated obstacles on the road to success.
All of this work is based on the recognition that achieving the biggest goals is all about achieving the small things, person by person, little by little, day by day. It may take more time and it is definitely more expensive. That said, the return on Investment is enormous.
We are grateful for and need your support. We invite you to join us as partners during the 2017-2018 school year as we work to transform lives and clear a path to a bright future for those young people who need us the most. Career Pathways refers to an interconnected and systemic approach to not only meeting 21st century workforce needs, but to creating systems that open new and exciting paths to opportunity. That is why MeckEd’s Career Pathways program is getting the results that gets. It was designed that way.
On behalf of the team at MeckEd and our Board of Directors, we wish all of you a relaxing and restorative end of summer. We are excited about what’s on the horizon and by what is possible when we all join together to clear a path to a bright future for all of our children.
Ross Danis, Ed.D