02/22/2013 04:06 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2013

YouthBiz: An "I Believe You Can" Partner of the REVOLUTION

By Vernon Jones Jr. Manual High School Assistant Principal

There are moments on the journey of educating scholars when you step back and cheer because they got it; not simply the content of the curriculum, but the connection to their dreams. It is transformational; there are few experiences like it. To see it happen, the moment when the learning leads to living and the living leads to doing what they love, is a reminder of our purpose. It is not enough to educate scholars with facts and figures, it is essential that we equally inspire them, that we stir within them a revolution that evokes and affirms that they have the capacity to change their world. Scholars have the right to aspire to and achieve more than what others believe them capable of.

Each day I am privileged to serve almost four hundred young scholars at Denver's Manual High School. We're a school that has been labeled "hard to serve" because of our demographics and deficit conclusions drawn by the keepers of educational bureaucracy. We reject that our demographics make our scholars "hard to serve", we embrace that they remind us that there is great work to be done and that we are "here to serve." We refuse to be driven by the deficit thinking and doing of others, we choose to believe that we have what it takes to help scholars to stand! We know that this positive paradigm shift is not possible without partners that believe the same. YouthBiz has been such a partner.

YouthBiz is not detoured by our demographics. YouthBiz is about making positive investments in the lives of all scholars. YouthBiz, like Manual, knows that transformation will occur when we have equal opportunity. The values and vehicles of YouthBiz are not limited to a few, it is at the heart of their organization to serve the many. YouthBiz knows that entrepreneurs, be they Black, White, Latino, Asian, male or female, are great for a school and community. The opportunities are endless when you are committed to raising up a diverse army of entrepreneurs to positively shift the paradigm of possibilities.

YouthBiz is not driven by deficit thinking. YouthBiz believes in all of the scholars that they serve. YouthBiz does not come to the table with a "these kids desperately need us" lens rather they look through the lens that our world desperately needs these scholars to realize the greatness within them. YouthBiz sees the potential and promise of all scholars and actively promotes their dreams to break paralyzing cycles of poverty and to show them the power of entrepreneurial thought and practice. There is a dream in every heart just waiting to be evoked by an "I believe you can."

YouthBiz is a dedicated developer that seeks to drive systemic change by lifting the lives of young people by supporting them as entrepreneurial leaders. The investments that YouthBiz makes are very intentional and innovative. When you are supporting scholars to dream to transform their world consistency of presence is critical. You can't just be there to birth the dream, you must be willing to get in the trenches with scholars to move from dream to reality. YouthBiz lives this out and doesn't fade from the scene when challenges come. Every scholar in every community deserves such consistency of presence.

YouthBiz is a genuine partner of a REVOLUTION that rejects the status quo and seeks to positively shake things up by working side by side scholars to make their dreams reality. We believe in the entrepreneurial capacity of every scholar and believe that the jangling discords of our time can be healed and that injustices can be abolished by both opening doors and teaching scholars to create doors of opportunity. We could not realize our vision as a school without the partnership with YouthBiz and I dare say that where we want to be as a nation is not possible without access to such programming by more young aspiring entrepreneurs. If we are really serious about transformation, if we are sick of paralyzing cycles of poverty, poor educational outcomes, and pipelines to prison filled with untapped promise, we must be committed to evoking the entrepreneur. Positively shift the paradigm of possibilities because here is not good enough!


Vernon Jones Jr.

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