Saturday, June 19, 2010

Part One: Something Deep

My, my, how this week has flown! In the hopes of keeping my entries somewhat brief (so you will actually read and enjoy them), I am going to break my week up into several entries!

First, let me tell you all about work. As you know, Monday was my first day. I have discovered a much shorter and easier route to work than that which I previously took. It only takes me about 30 minutes from point A to point B and is completely free, which means I can spend more on the weekends, hooray! {and let me tell you, there are plenty of things to spend money on here}

For sake of length, I'll only give you a brief description of what NFTE's mission is, but please read more {}. It's a really neat program. NFTE was founded by Steve Mariotti in 1987 to help at risk students stay in school by engaging them in a program which teaches entrepreneurship skills. It was founded on the premise that "street smarts" can very easily translate into entrepreneurial talent. I really like the program because it seems to be founded on the age old principle: if you catch a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Basically, helping people, help themselves.

Ok, here's where the something deep comes in. This theme has come up a lot in my classes; in my seminar class we are reading Robert Egger's "Begging for Change." It is a great, thought provoking book that asks us to take a good, hard look at the non-profit sector and simply demand more. {It's also an easy read and nothing too challenging for this summer ;) }
Too often, we are resigned to think that because our money is benefiting a "good cause," we shouldn't ask questions about an organization's plan for using the money in responsible, effective ways. The consequence: too many inefficient non-profits that only act as band-aids for big problems instead of attacking the root cause and getting people out of the cycle of dependency.

This theme has also surfaced in my Voluntary Associations class, where we have been talking about the role which voluntary associations play in our society, especially with regards to their relationship with the government and even more especially, about the right of the people to associate. Did you know, our right to associate is not specifically stated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights? Perhaps this is the case because it was simply understood as a natural and undeniable right, but more likely, this seems to suggest that there is something qualitatively different about the right to associate than other rights {like the right to freedom of speech, press, etc.} To clarify, aren't associations naturally destabilizing to a country and government? And, more specifically, how do non-profits play into all of this? Should they be completely independent of the government or government funded? The questions go on and on, but luckily, you don't have to answer them {that'll be my job on my midterm Tuesday} but I did want to pose them to you all because they represent the fundamental questions which our society is struggling to answer in our present time {think healthcare, insurance, etc.}.

Ok, ok, enough deep stuff...for now.

This week at work consisted of preparing for the Advanced Student Summit this Saturday {which should be wrapping up in just a few hours}. The Summit is a day of instruction for students who have completed the NFTE program in school (which culminates in constructing and presenting a business plan) and think that they may want to move forward and actually start their business. The forty students who were selected from high schools in the DC region got to choose two workshops from a list of four: introduction to QuickBooks, building a marketing plan, selling yourself and building an e-commerce website. The idea of the Summit is to give kids the skills they need to be successful while also serving as a reality check as to how complicated running a business really is. Needless to say, that after spending so much time preparing for the Summit this week, I was pretty bummed when I couldn't go today.

What's today, you ask? You'll just have to read my next entry to find out!

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