The experiences that I’ve had in life have caused me to see some of the best and some of the worst of what this world has to offer. While the worst of these times have made an impression, I’m grateful to understand that some of the best moments that I’ve witnessed were made possible with teamwork.
I am pretty much a loner. Those who know me well would underscore this point. Despite this fact about me, I understand, for example, that in our darkest hour it is rare that we can simply will ourselves from our current existence to a better state of mind without the support of others. I also understand that it is difficult to sustain excellence in anything without harnessing the energy that comes from having the right people pulling us in the right direction. Vince Lombardi is noted as saying, “Individual commitment to a group effort… that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
It is absolutely a group effort to create conditions to help more young people and families become successful in life. In our region, the beginnings of a team have formed. Ready by 21® St. Louis and East Side Aligned are working to create the conditions that equip every child for success by aligning and advancing policy, practice and investment. Those who are committed to achieving positive outcomes for children and youth in the St. Louis region must nurture this space so that we can connect and challenge each other to be better.
Our country was built by interdependent networks or teams that nurtured the basic idea that an educated population was central to our democracy. Most of us understand that this sentiment is even more important and more complex now. In talking to people in the generation just ahead of mine, you come to understand that graduating high school was the primary ticket you needed to have a decent life. When I graduated high school in the 90s there were seemingly more options even if I did no additional study beyond that point.
Today, if a young person chooses not to pursue additional study or training beyond high-school, the prospects for achieving anything better than a marginal, “barely get by” existence is often out of reach. We can encourage our children to do better. This will require more kids graduating from high school and choosing two-or four-year degrees, trade or military careers, learning skills that position them to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. In order to achieve this, all of our voices should be heard and we have to work together. I invite you to join this conversation with other thought leaders in St. Louis to discuss how we can take the strengths our region already possess and use those to drive a real impact. Join us.
Thank you for your commitment to helping people—there is nothing solitary about this work. I am grateful for your continued support.
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