In a recent report published in the by the National Association of State Budget Officers, budgets for public schools serving grades K-12 were cut, in 2012, $1.8 billion nationwide. Their estimates the new fiscal year may reach as high as $2.5 billion. Is it possible that ours is a nation that can’t afford to properly educate its children? And, if this is true, who will pick up the slack to ensure that the academic and social skills development needs of our youth are met?

The fight for our children’s future is a battle for our nation’s very survival. Despite bureaucratic bickering and the myopic visions of many of our leaders, there are many dedicated men and women who fight tirelessly to educate, inspire and nurture this nation’s young people. In celebration of teachers, coaches and role models everywhere, Wiles Magazine is honored to recognize the following few.



One of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations for youth development, the YMCA provides numerous services to children, teens, and families to encourage and promote the importance of education. One of these programs is “College Goal Sunday,” which helps students and parents find the rresources they need to fund a college education. The program began in 2008 and provides professional, trained counselors to help students fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms correctly, ensuring they get the most from Federal Student Aid. These counselors also provide resources for other financial aid opportunities and information about admissions requirements. Whether kids come to the Y looking to explore their interests, or for support in navigating challenges, the Y is committed to nurturing children and teens and roots for their success. The Y also offers a national Youth and Government program to get students involved in and educated about our government and Achievers Programs, which aim to raise students’ academic standards and help them explore their education options and develop career goals, among other programs and resources aimed at helping children establish, maintain and achieve their goals of receiving a higher education.

Photo Credit: Cyril Mechkov



The Boys and Girls Clubs of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children set and reach educational goals and achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles. Founded in 1860 by Elizabeth Hammersley and Mary and Alice Goodwin to get boys off of the streets, the Boys and Girls Clubs officially took on its inclusive moniker in 1990. Their mission is simple: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” With programs such as BE GREAT: Graduate, which focuses on dropout prevention and academic achievement, and SMART MOVES, an education and prevention program that addresses drug and alcohol use and premature sexual activity, the BGCA provides resources children need to succeed both in and outside of the classroom. By offering these services, and more, every day after school, the Boys and Girls Clubs also prevent the tendency for delinquency in unsupervised children and reinforce the importance of education. Ninety percent (90%) of Boys and Girls Club alumni graduate from high school – in contrast to the national rate of just under seventy-five percent (75%.)

Photo Credit: R. Nyberg (USAID)



As many of the country’s public school systems suffer under the burdens of budget cuts and understaffing, charter schools are becoming a more popular alternative to this crisis in public education. A charter school is still a public school and does not charge tuition or have any enrollment requirements. Unlike other public schools, though, charters have been freed from state education regulations but must still uphold a certain level of academic achievement as determined by their charter. Aspire Public Schools is a network of charter schools throughout California founded by Dr. Don Shalvey and Reed Hastings that serves more than two thirds high poverty students in their classrooms. On the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API) growth score, Aspire schools averaged a score of 820 – making it the highest-performing large school system in the state that serves such a high population of high poverty students. There are currently 34 schools under the Aspire umbrella, all of which emphasize serving low-income communities with the goal of preparing all of their students for college. This goal is clearly reflected in their motto “College for Certain.” They have certainly lived up to that motto as, for the second year in a row, 100% of Aspire graduates were accepted to four-year colleges.

Photo Credit: Askan



Teach for America is an organization that utilizes recent graduates to educate the United States’ youth – particularly in poverty stricken areas. Originally part of her undergraduate thesis, Wendy Kopp began Teach for America in 1990 with a staff of only 500 recent college graduates. Since then, nearly 33,000 graduates have joined in the effort to achieve educational equality for America’s young people. By providing schools and students with well-trained, enthusiastic teachers, Teach for America is attempting to close the gap that exists between students in low-income school districts and those in wealthier districts and homes. Teach for America recruits commit to two years of teaching in assigned schools. Not only does this organization provide the tools that underprivileged students need to achieve success in the classroom, it also gives the graduates who participate in the program valuable work experience and skills to succeed in their careers.

Photo Credit: Mosborne01


For more information about these organizations please visit their websites:
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