In a world where the educational landscape is increasingly dominated by for-profit companies, it's more important than ever to talk about the role and the resilience of educational nonprofits. I've walked the halls of both worlds, and my journey has shown me the stark differences and the vital importance of nonprofits in education.
The Corporate World of Education: A Double-Edged Sword
Once, I was part of a large corporation, deeply involved in spreading STEM education globally. The impact was significant, the reach was wide, and the financial rewards were tangible. Big educational companies have revolutionized education through technology and resources, bringing learning to the fingertips of many. But here's the catch: this access often comes with a price tag, a barrier that many cannot afford to cross.
The Reality of Profit-Driven Education
In my corporate tenure, I learned a hard truth: our educational services were reserved for those who could pay. When contracts weren't renewed, relationships were severed. It was business, yes, but it didn't resonate with my understanding of what education should be - a universal right, not a privilege. In 2019, a budget cut and a subsequent layoff from the corporation turned out to be my wake-up call.
A New Chapter: Nonprofit Education
With my husband's support, I decided to pivot. We wanted to continue the mission of spreading educational joy, but equitably. We founded a nonprofit initiative with a focus on STEAM and nature education, particularly through the lens of our national parks.
The Struggle and Satisfaction of Nonprofit Work
Starting with zero budget, we embarked on a mission to make education free and accessible. We now touch the lives of over a million students, educators, and families annually. Yet, funding remains our biggest hurdle. Our only significant financial support comes from the National Park Foundation for our "Crossing America" program and we are so grateful for that. The lack of funds means limitations on how much more we can do.
Collaborative Potential: Sharing Resources
Imagine if for-profit and nonprofit educational sectors could collaborate more effectively. Could the resources and innovations of corporations be shared to amplify the impact of nonprofits? This synergy could create a more inclusive and impactful educational ecosystem.
The Promise of Our Nonprofit
Our work may not offer monetary returns, but it's rich in stories, kindness, and positive outcomes. We've seen firsthand how valued and loved students and educators feel when they're not just another customer.
A Call for Investment in Our Future
We're searching for individuals or entities willing to invest in our present for a brighter future. Your investment won't yield financial dividends, but it will contribute to a world where education is accessible to all, regardless of their ability to pay.
Leveling the Playing Field
For small nonprofits like ours, the playing field is uneven. We dream of a world where educational opportunities are not dictated by financial capability. We're doing our part, but we need help to do more.
In conclusion, educational nonprofits must stay the course because our work is crucial. It's about more than just imparting knowledge; it's about fostering a world where education is a right, not a luxury. We invite you to join us in this mission. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of countless individuals and, in turn, shape the future of our world.
Here's to creating a world where education is boundless and available to all. Let's keep creating opportunities for students to experience awe and wonder.