By: Joanne Reyes, Fulfillment Fund President
As we approach this unprecedented time in education, we stand at a crossroads in our path ahead. With an entirely virtual semester ahead of us, school and students, as well as the Fulfillment Fund face new challenges in keeping students on track, graduating, and persisting through college.
This health, economic, and educational crisis has created even greater needs and surfaced underlying inequities. Organizations are faced with meeting these challenges given our limited resources and we stand at the precipice of a very important moment in time.
When so many others are either pulling back from support to our economically vulnerable neighbors out of either choice or necessity, Fulfillment Fund is choosing to lean in to provide greater supports to more students than ever before. We are choosing to see an opportunity during this crisis. We are re-thinking our paradigm in service delivery to meet not just the needs of this immediate moment, but also to think through how we better serve our community in a post-pandemic world.
Much of this work was already in place prior to COVID as we piloted truly engaging virtual student services, deepened programs to better support college graduation, and began to invest in helping students be career-ready after graduating. This semester we will be using digital platforms such as Google Classroom and YouTube to make sure our students have the continued support they need.
What the pandemic has done is to accelerate these efforts to provide innovative programs, and heightened our commitment to supporting students and meeting their needs no matter where their starting point and where they currently are. Our philosophy to not cherry-pick students and instead to be there for all students remains a vital part of our DNA, and will be foundational in our efforts to broaden our reach in the time ahead.
As we stand at this juncture, we will continue to be bold, passionate, and entrepreneurial. We will listen, learn, and adapt as we aim to close equity gaps and mitigate achievement and learning loss in an educational system that has been upended seemingly overnight.
Our programs team has been adapting to be even more responsive and impactful, and also forming partnerships and alliances that allow for greater collaboration among those of us privileged to serve in this space. These partnerships will be essential as we work toward doing more with potentially shrinking resources as our economy continues to weather COVID’s impact.
Perhaps the most important partnership of all is the one with our Fulfillment Fund parents. We are creating more ways to engage with them virtually as well, to make sure they have the resources and information they need to propel their student in their academic road to college.
Our support community is standing at these crossroads with us, and I am grateful to everyone — staff and supporters — who has chosen to take the time to learn more deeply about the Fulfillment Fund’s programs. With the help of those who care deeply about bridging equity gaps for first-generation students from lower-income communities and those who understand the deep value of a college education, we will prevail.