Over the years, the BNI Foundation has done amazing things to support children’s educational organizations – schools, community projects and other educational organizations. Since starting our charitable focus over 17 years ago, the BNI Foundation has contributed over $3 million to non-profit, charitable organizations like Junior Achievement (Young Enterprise), Boys and Girls Clubs, Claremont Educational Foundation, Flat Rock Elementary, Super Stars Literacy, Tareto Maa – Kenya, Little Rock Orphanage and School – Kenya, and Building Blocks – India, among many, many others.
With the launch of the BNI Foundation’s Business Voices movement in August, 2014, more excitement, energy and support has been building within BNI than ever before for the great work we have been doing over the past 18 years in children’s education. As a result of the enthusiastic reaction, we plan to begin supporting Business Voices with our Givers Gain Grants program.
After returning from an impactful trip to Zimbabwe, former BNI Select Business Source Chapter member Steve Sargent introduced his chapter to an opportunity they never expected. Steve used his presentation time, not to present on his business, but to present an opportunity for the chapter to literally save lives by giving two hours of volunteer time. Sargent found that in keeping with BNI’s Givers Gain® philosophy, chapter members were eager to help.
Written by: Beth Misner
Ivan and I (Beth Misner) hosted the BNI regional Member Extravaganza winners at a breakfast on Saturday morning during our New Orleans trip in October 2014. We invited Damon Smothers, the school psychologist who had coordinated the school visits from the previous day which I have written about earlier on this blog site, to our BNI breakfast. We asked him to share with our guests the vision he has had for some time of the Smothers Academy, a public school for boys with a prep school focus. Here is a summary of what he told us:
The second school we visited in New Orleans was John McDonogh #35, a former charter school struggling to serve its students. McDonogh #35 used to serve students who have scored high enough on an entrance exam to be admitted as a college prep school. They are trying hard to maintain that focus and trajectory, but it’s more difficult now. And we encountered a metal detector at the front entrance through which everyone must pass before coming in.
I can tell you with confidence I have never been in a school that had a metal detector before. I knew they exist, but being up close and personal with that reality was sobering.
“We are going into the 9th Ward, Beth,” I was told two weeks ago while planning our first inner city school school visit to meet the students of some of our nations’ toughest schools in order to begin building relationships there. New Orleans was the destination and John H. Martyn Alternative School and John McDonogh #35 were our two schools. Yikes.
John H. Martyn Alternative School
I did not know what I did not know. I did not know that these kids have been moved to the John H. Martyn Alternative School as a last resort.
Recent events in Ferguson, MO, have really touched the core of my heart. Let me start with a little background.
I spent my junior high and high school years in rural East Tennessee, in Dayton. I rode the bus to high school that picked up the kids from the projects, as we called it, before it picked up me and my brother. Most of the students picked up from the projects were black students. I was one of the few white students who would sit with black students if there were a spot open on the bus. Most of my classmates stood, rather than take a seat beside one of them. You can just imagine the names I was called. I look back on my younger self and feel grateful that I was known even then for love.