Our nation is at a critical juncture at this point in time. In the midst of a deeply polarized society, consistent threats to already meager education budgets, increasingly frequent violence and hate crimes and attempts to silence student voice, centering student needs and facilitating opportunities for their success need to be priorities among every actor in the early childhood to employment pipeline. Ensuring that every student feels supported, valued and prepared to enter the working world supports an ongoing mission to celebrate diversity and support its manifestation in the workforce, a goal that has yet to be reached nationally or globally.
According to Gallup’s 2017 College Student Survey, many recent college graduates will be unemployed or underemployed with their college degrees. Only half of the students surveyed believe that they can secure a good job with their major, and only a third believe that they have the skills and knowledge to be successful in the working world.
This is amplified for first-generation and low-income students, as 89 percent of them will drop out of postsecondary school with no degree.
National Council for Education Statistics data from 2017 further illustrates this conundrum. The most at-risk students are not graduating and reaching their potential when going through our educational system, students who do graduate feel unprepared for the professional world and employers lament a lack of skilled job candidates.
With such an inconsistent track record of ensuring that every student has equal educational opportunity, and of producing a prepared, diverse workforce, something must change.
How can we generate a greater impact on diversity and inclusion in education and professional systems? GlobalMindED creates a space in which organizations and stakeholders whose missions often overlap or complement each other can leave their operational silos and connect with others who are striving to reach the same goals. To support at-risk college students in achieving career success, our education system needs support from every sector interacting with students, from teaching to hiring, to create a diverse talent pipeline that delivers opportunity for every student and a capable workforce.
GlobalMindED is a nonprofit global collaborative, education-innovation network through which members seek to eliminate the barriers to equal access to educational and professional opportunities that result in prosperous jobs. GlobalMindED’s mission is centered on the belief that the people on the ground are the best people to solve our most pervasive problems in educational and professional access.
The goal is to amplify the work of individuals and organizations through cross-sectoral collaborations. Bold leaders can deliver inclusive outcomes through collaboration and shared vision. Through innovative partnerships, wide-reaching network, and cross-sectoral collaboration, every student can access the informal education, professional skills, resources, networks, mentors, experiential learning and social support they need for upward economic mobility.
GlobalMindED has become a virtual epicenter for connecting “uncommon collaborators and facilitating cross-sectoral communication, cooperation and shared outcomes to create a collective impact on the diversity and inclusivity efforts of both the education and professional worlds. Our bold goal is to have 25 million first-generation students, graduates and those who work with them connected and resourcing each other with educational, job and promotion opportunities by 2025.
We work to support faculty, staff, administrators and employers to create educational and professional environments that ensure every student and employee feels supported and valued.
GlobalMindED’s annual conference in Denver has built a continuously expanding network of diverse stakeholders from around the world representing K-12 education, higher education, business, nonprofit and government. The conference asks those questions that have yet to be answered: How do we create a world without gender-based ceilings? How can we best support first-generation students in higher education in securing global employment? How can we solve the wicked problems facing low-income communities?
Since 2014, GlobalMindED has seen steady 20-percent growth in conference attendance, from 380 attendees in the first year to more than 1,000 registered for this year’s program.
GlobalMindED is continuing to broaden the network of individuals and organizations focused on closing the equity gap in education and employment through innovative collaborations. This year, GlobalMindED, the PVBLIC Foundation and the United Nations will host an opening dinner on the Sustainable Development Goals, with funds raised supporting our First Generation to College 2018 Leadership Class, a group of student leaders attending the conference to help faculty and advisers better understand their needs.
With the tone set for intentional collaboration to address some of the most pressing social issues, the conference will feature 49 different panels, more than 250 speakers and a variety of options for in-depth exploration of innovations in educational and professional equity and in helping the most at-risk students reach their potential. Conference attendees can choose from nine thematic tracks relevant to their work: early childhood, K-12, higher education, technology, STEAM, health, global work skills, policy and foundations.
The 2017 NCES data also illustrates persistent and pervasive race-, income- and ethnicity-based inequalities in educational access and achievement. These gaps affect the quality and diversity of the workforce available to employers. Innovative, “uncommon” collaboration among those already doing this work, corporations ready to make changes and government representatives ready to listen are necessities to enhancing and amplifying impact on student success. Not only will the ROI be better for students, but businesses will also have a more diverse pipeline of prepared students graduating and entering the workforce.
GlobalMindED represents a unique opportunity for people from different perspectives to come together to identify our collective blind spots and to work with people of varying backgrounds so that our individual efforts are amplified into an unprecedented impact on eliminating educational equity gaps. Leaders in this arena are get-it-done people who will leave the conference with innovative connections through which to solve the most challenging issues for at-risk students. Working together across differences in background, experience and perspective to prioritize the students and celebrate diversity is itself a revolutionary act in this day and age.
Carol Carter is founder and executive director of GlobalMindED and an international student-success author and speaker.