13 May Kim’s Remarks at One Amazing Night 2016
From remarks Given at One Amazing Night on April 30, 2016
From the moment when one’s potential begins to unfold—when they begin to defy people’s beliefs that they were not “college material”, and beat the overwhelming odds by becoming the first in their family to graduate college, when life’s circumstances begin to change because their education opens new doors –when they go on to tell others, “you can do this, because I was once in your shoes, and I did”–— from that particular moment in time, when the power unfolds to do the seemingly impossible and they go on to do extraordinary things—this creates a ripple effect for generations to come—all because some one gave just one moment of hope and support to another. This is the magic of opportunity we celebrated at the Marin Civic Center on April 30th
But even as we celebrate, we cannot help but acknowledge the larger climate in which we all live and work. The urgency behind our work has been amplified by the irony of building walls and dividing opportunities. We are surrounded by growing income inequality and the horrifying rhetoric that is creating an undercurrent of hate targeting entire communities. This is not who we are.
We believe in a bolder, more beautiful and inspiring vision—a world when one day all students regardless of race, ethnicity and socioeconomics have the opportunities to achieve his or her potential.
Because of you, over the last 35 years, we have built a model of change that is both permanent and sustainable—and we have the proof.
Our nationally recognized model provides support to and through college graduation and beyond. This year we served 4,500 students with intensive college prep, mentoring, college and financial aid counseling and wrap-around student support. That’s nearly 1,000 more than last year. . And we awarded $2.8 million in scholarships and leveraged $18 million in free financial aid. Our students also graduate with only one-sixth the amount of loan debt compared to the national average. All of our students are on track to graduate from college and we’re still holding strong with 84% graduation rate who started at a 4-year University –a rate that far exceeds even most colleges across the country— stunning figures.
But these are just the numbers. Actually, what we do is absolutely and unequivocally immeasurable. You cannot put a numerical value on unconditional love or on reversing the negative messaging that our students have encountered for most of their lives. You cannot put a value on the community that we have surrounded our students and families with so that they never, ever have to feel alone again— there is no measure to feeling like you belong — It is invaluable when a young person hears, “You are enough” and “I believe in you”, And it is simply impossible to measure a family’s relief and joy when the cycle of poverty has been broken.
Our students are the largest living generation and their courage is unmatched, they are, determined, talented, smart and if just given the opportunity, they will go on to do extraordinary things—They are creating the counter story to the disturbing rhetoric , ,because every single one of them is a change agent—they are changing the narrative, the world, and they are the beauty we wish to see in everyone.
Because of our students and all of you, we are poised to launch our new five-year strategic. Our goal: a tipping point for widespread change—Here in the North Bay, half of our students still leave high school without real choice—because they do not have the minimum, basic college prep curriculum. In our partnerships with our district superintendents, and the Marin Promise, we are going to make sure that every eighth grade student and their parent has the knowledge, guidance and the support to enroll and progress through the basic college prep curriculum. We’re going deeper and stronger. We will triple the number of students being served from 4,500 to more than 12,000—we will more than quadruple our new Fellowship Program from 10 to 50 so that every high school campus that we serve has an amazing 10,000 Degrees team of Fellows, Advisors and high school leaders. Before we know it, every student who thought they were not college material, because of either what they had been told or resources they have lacked, will be saying, “I Am, One Degree,”. Every student will have the choice and the support to succeed.
ONE Amazing Night signified an important inflection point in the history of 10,000 Degrees—a momentum has been building here through the power of ONE because each of you is ONE Degree—you are One Degree of Change that is leading us all to become bolder, more alive, more loving and more impactful.
Now is the time to breathe more life into what can be –a more beautiful, just and equitable world. It is time for all of us to believe that our audacious vision is possible and that we are the ones to build it, with everyone of you. So let’s do it. Join us and become ONE Degree of Change.