I am passionate aboutI am passionate about youth education, specifically pre-K and elementary
Despite overwhelming evidence that reading skills are foundational to success
in work and life, only 1 in 3 American students demonstrate grade level
proficiency on national assessments in 4th and 8th grade. The statistics are
even more troubling for students in low income neighborhoods.
Recent studies suggest that students who cannot read proficiently by 3rd
grade rarely catch up in later grades (3rd grade is a critical time where
students begin to graduate from learning to read to reading to learn). Third
graders who are not proficient on year end assessments are ~4x more likely to
drop out before graduation compared to those with proficient reading skills.
And literacy rates correlate to incarceration rates as well. Over 70% of
inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
The chasm between the proficient and struggling readers starts well before
kindergarten. Children aged 2 to 3 who are read to several times a day do
materially better in kindergarten than children who are read to only a few
times a week or less.
This is a challenging but fixable problem (especially with combination of
strong teachers, willing volunteers, and constantly improving ed tech) and
hopefully one that I can work on with my OYW friends!
As a former U.S. Marine, I’m also passionate about veteran / mental health
issues . As Sebastian Junger articulates in his recent book, Tribe, the
reason suicide and incarceration rates are so high is that veterans are
coming home from deployments, snatched away from their teams (which have
become families after months to years in war zone), and are not trained for
today’s workforce. Many feel lost and dejected. I’d like to continue to
generate awareness about veterans’ issues and support the community as best
ActionsI have volunteered with Working In The Schools (WITS), a non-profit
organization focused on improving childhood literacy rates, for most of the
past decade. I started as a volunteer and currently serve as the Vice
President of the Board of Directors and chair the Performance Measurement
In 2018, our focus at WITS is to optimize our programs to ensure all children
in Chicago have access to quality pre-K and elementary literacy education.
This is ambitious goal but we’re up for the challenge.
While in business school, I mentored more senior veterans (mostly Vietnam and
Desert Storm Veterans) who were studying to get their GEDs and college
degrees. In 2016, I helped raise money for a program called Urban Warriors
which paired combat veterans with children / teens affiliated with gangs in
Chicago to try to reduce violence through relationship building based off