Monday, December 3, 2012

Give $5, Get $5

Posted by: Brett McNaught on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

In September of 2012 Therafit Shoe launched a line of womens shoes and a determination for giving back to those who need it most every single time someone buys a pair of shoes.  Educate Tomorrow was honored to be a part of Therafits selection of 4 charities that are a part of their One Step Forward campaign.  Educate Tomorrow was also proud to be the winner of Therafits socail media contest to design your own shoe.  Co-founder of Educate Tomorrow and my wife, Virginia Emmons, designed and won the Therafit shoe contest with more than 700 votes.  She loves her Therafit shoes and now uses them every time she goes out to take our kids for a walk in the park or to exercise.  December is the month of giving, both gifts to others and charity.  I am excited to announce that in the month of December Therafit has stepped up to increase their giving to both you and Educate Tomorrow.  Through the Give $5, Get $5 campaign every time you use the Educate Tomorrow coupon you save $5 on a pair a Therafit Shoes and they give a $5 donation to Educate Tomorrow.  I am excited about the possibilities of this partnerhsip and I hope you join us in supporting Therafit, a company who is determined to giving back every step of the way.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Community Partner

Posted by: Brett McNaught on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

In the summer of 2012 we were blessed to partner with a great Miami-based organization called PREPWORKS.  PREPWORKS was founded and is led by Tracey LaFlamme Ortega.  According to PREPWORKS: “In 2005, Tracy embraced the roles of both instructor and entrepreneur and created a goal-oriented, systematic approach to standardized test preparation and academic achievement. Students told their classmates and parents told their friends, resulting in word-of mouth success stories that turned out an exceptional number of students. Soon PREPWORKS was created to empower students to realize and achieve their personal academic bests. In the past five years, PREPWORKS has helped thousands of students achieve their goals.”

We have been working with PREPWORKS for the past few months and we are getting great reviews from the Educate Tomorrow students who are using it.  The program is engaging and interactive and really works at attaining knowledge not just for increasing test scores but for learning reinforcing core math, reading and writing competencies. 

And the best thing for Educate Tomorrow is that PREPWORKS is generous.  PREPWORKS understands that the youth we work with do not have access to abundant resources without a giving community around them.  Therefore PREPWORKS decided that all Educate Tomorrow youth should have that access, free of charge, in order to help make our entire community stronger and better prepared for the future, fitting with their goal of “striving to remove the barriers to educational opportunity and excellence in America.”

Educate Tomorrow is proud to partner with PREPWORKS and we believe that if this desire to make the entire community succeed can grow we will build a strong community with social equity and economic prosperity. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Power of Choice

Posted by: Brett McNaught on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I know that the freedom to choose is right.  It is the core of democracy, of what it is to be American, of what it should be to be human.  But I am impressed when I see it work in small but powerful doses.  At Educate Tomorrow the students we work with choose to be a part of us.  They choose to take advantage of the resources we can provide them with and they choose to keep walking through our doors.  And when they make those choices, each time they make those choices, they are one giant leap closer to reaching their goals, to becoming empowered and to reaching their goals.  Many teenagers don't get to choose what they want to do.  They have to go to school.  They have to clean their room.  They have to come hoe at a reasonable hour.  When you are in the foster care system your choices are even further restricted.  With that so are your opportunities.  And here is Educate Tomorrow a small, non-profit organisation that is focused on education, learning, skills building.  To a teen I can imagine, how boring does that sound?  I know that is what I would have thought when I was 16.  And to top it off, no one is making anyone be a part of Educate Tomorrow.  There are no bribes, save for a free lunch.  So here we are, Educate Tomorrow has all these great things to offer a young person: a mentor, a life coach, tutoring, a safe place to come and chill, ACT/SAT prep, a computer lab, life skills camps, college tours, and much much more.  If you embrace Educate Tomorrow and all that we have to offer, it will change your life, no doubt.  And it has changed lives.  3 strong young women now have their masters degrees, 9 have bachelors and many associates and vocational certificates.  And the reason for that is because it was a choice, and that choice to go get a mentor, to go to a life-skills camp, to go.  Yesterday I was sitting at my desk staring at our empty workstations in our new mentee resource center, because school was in session, and I was wondering, wrongly, how can we get students to use this.  Then what impressed me was right after school our door started opening and by 3:30 pm there were 4 of our students workng on the computers.  One was doing PREPWORKS, one was searching for an apartment, one was doing their homework and the other looking for a job and compiling a list of resources for other transitioning foster youth.  I can't think of anything more inspiring than when people make the choice to put in the hard work to create opportunities for themselves.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Educate Tomorrow Niger

Posted by: Brett McNaught on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I am not the one to be writing this blog about my recent trip to Niger so I will keep it short and hand this over to the real writer when he is ready.  Over the past 12 years I have spent nearly 6 years living and working in Africa, Asia and Central America on education, health and community development activities.  With that experience also comes the fact that I don't get to see things as new and fresh as they once looked.  I was blessed to be able to bring the first mentee Educate Tomorrow ever worked with in Miami along with me this time to Niger and it was a real privledge to experience Antonio's first trip to Africa.  Antonio Shleton has been with advertising agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky for over five years as a Broadcast Engineer. He is responsible for studio recording, sound design and effects, music production, and post-production work. He received his A.S. degree in Recording Arts from Fullsail University in Orlando, Florida in 2004. Antonio also has an active artistic career as a hip hop and R&B musician, releasing his first single "Remember" in 2008. He was a foster youth in Miami-Dade County and the efforts of co-founder and Board Chair Melanie Damian and Board Member Chris Damian assisted Mr. Shelton to further his education and he provided much of the inspiration for the formation of Educate Tomorrow.  For years Antonio has dreamed of travelling to Niger, West Africa with Educate Tomorrow to see what we are doing there and to experience what it is like abroad.  Over the years as a Board Member for Educate Tomorrow Antonio has raised several thousand dollars for Educate Tomorrow and over $6,000 for the Niger program. 

I was a bit nervous having a rookie travelling with me to Africa.  I thought Antonio might slow me down, might complain about the 100+ degree heat or not agree with what our options were for dinner or the lack of showers, toilets and matresses.  But I could not have been more blessed.  Antonio had a great outlook and the keen observations and quest for knowledge of a great artist, which he is.  He was ready for the challenge and he had a way with engagin children and adults despite the language barrier.  We didn't stay in fancy hotels or eat at resturants.  There were no hot or cold showers at the end of a long day, just a bucket full of water and the nights were hot and rainy but he spent most of his time focusing on learning about Niger, about the people and about himself.  Thank you Antonio.

In Niger Educate Tomorrow is a registered non-profit NGO with the government of Niger and we work to support 2 communities in the Kirtachi area, south of Niamey on the east banks of the Niger river.  In the small rural village of Kabey Fo where Virginia was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2000-2002 there is a school with 4 permanent classrooms supporting grades 1-6 with government teachers and a solar panel for electricity at night.  This past school year 40 students were enrolled and 100% passed to the next grade level with 5 out of 5 passing the national exam to move from primary school (6th grade) to middle school.  Because the village is too small for a middle school students must travel 15 miles to the nearest school to attend grades 7-11.  This is not possible on their own without any modes of transporation so 5 years ago Educate Tomorrow started a boarding house in the town of Kirtachi to provide room and board for 7th-10th graders attending from Kabey Fo and surrounding hamlets and small villages.   This past school year that ended in June 20 out of 22 students made grade level progress and 2 of the students were the top in their respective classes.  This coming school year, starting October 1st, Educate Tomorrow will support 28 students at the boarding house.  At the boarding house we provide 3 meals a day, medicine and health care expenses, tutoring for up to 3 hours each night, uniforms, books, bedding and mosquito nets, school supplies and transportation to and from their village 4 times per year.  The total cost per student per year is under $800. 

It was a great pleasure to join Antonio on his first trip to Niger and I am happy to see that Educate Tomorrow Niger is making great progress on the attainment of higher education for rural youth that prior to 2000 had no classrooms, teachers or access to quality education. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

At times the world can feel very small

Posted by: Brett McNaught, CEO of Educate Tomorrow on Friday, August 3, 2012 at 7:00:00 am Comments (0)

At times the world can feel very small.  A new cutting edge website can reach thousands of new people and can engage, educate and inspire from Miami to Mumbai.  Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow us all ways to get our messages out, to share with one another, to learn and to grow.  I encourage you to follow me on Twitter, @B_McNaught, and Educate Tomorrow, @educatetomorrow and to like us on Facebook,

For me, after growing up in a small town in central Illinois, I felt the world was small when I went all the way to Niger, West Africa to serve in the Peace Corps and wound up meeting my wife, also from a small town in the Midwest.  Virginia and I grew up just a 3 hour drive from one another and when we met we were living in mud huts with no running water or electricity and we felt that we were a couple of the luckiest people on the planet.  We still feel that way.  The Peace Corps was the beginning of the love story of how co-founder of Educate Tomorrow, Virginia Emmons and I first met.  You can see it here

Now, as I take over as the new CEO of Educate Tomorrow and as Virginia and I grow our family it is a new chapter in our life.  We hope that you join us.  We are working tirelessly alongside hundreds of Educate Tomorrow volunteers, sponsors, foundations and corporate partners each year to assist the most disadvantaged youth in Miami to succeed in high school, in college and in life.  I encourage you to learn more, to get involved.  We have learned that when you have genuine interest in creating positive change people will help you to succeed.  Come on, join us.  Become part of Educate Tomorrow.  With your help we can achieve something great.  

I am proud to be the new CEO of Educate Tomorrow and to celebrate the launch of our new website created by our friends at Facelift Designs, .  Educate Tomorrow has many new initiatives underway and I will share them with you all on this new blog.  

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