City Year hosted its second annual Investing in Education breakfast at Aki Kurose Middle School on Tuesday, February 5th. Business leaders, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) educators, and community members joined City Year to explore the benefits of investing in public education.
Speakers included Mia Williams, Principal of Aki Kurose; Jason Young, Vice President of Handset Marketing of T-Mobile and City Year Board Member; Michael Robinson, City Year Corps Member; Jane Nishita, Market Development Manager of CenturyLink; Gemma Edwards-Aronchick, Program Manager of Microsoft Citizenship and Public Affairs; and Simon Amiel, Executive Director of City Year Seattle/King County.
Principal Williams welcomed guests to “Peace Crane country,” describing that Aki students come from many diverse backgrounds, with over 20 languages spoken in the school. She further stated that of the 750 students that attend Aki, 87 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Ms. Williams asserted that City Year corps members are “a vital resource to our school.” She celebrated the energy that City Year brings to Aki, joking that she still hears corps members cheering at 5 pm, long after many teachers and staff have left the school.
City Year corps member Mike Robinson shared his personal experiences working with students at Aki, emphasizing that, as much as City Year affects the lives of students, “[students] also impact us.”
Jane Nishita, keynote speaker, began her remarks by recalling the inspiring life of Aki Kurose, the Japanese American teacher and internment camp survivor for whom the middle school is named. She then highlighted a number of successful ways CenturyLink invests in education throughout the Puget Sound region, including implementing employee volunteer programs and partnering with organizations like City Year.
Building off of Ms. Nishita’s remarks, Gemma Edwards-Aronchick expanded upon the value of partnering with community groups, underscoring the “collaborative spirit” of City Year.
Jason Young said that City Year’s “get-it done culture” resonated with T-Mobile, who saw investing in City Year as “both a responsibility and an opportunity…to be involved” in improving the lives of students. Mr. Young emphasized the importance of investing in the future workforce, and he urged civic leaders “to think about how [they] can magnify the impact that City Year is making…here in the Puget Sound, but also beyond.”
Further delving into the economic benefits of investing in education, City Year Seattle/King County Executive Director Simon Amiel revealed that the more than 12 million students across the nation projected to drop out over the next decade will cost about $3 trillion. Mr. Amiel explained that in Seattle, City Year’s goal is to saturate the feeder patterns consisting of elementary and middle schools that feed into the four comprehensive high schools that together, contribute 50% of the dropout students in order to “secure our city’s graduation pipeline.”
We thank our guests for attending the Investing in Education breakfast, and we look forward to future partnerships that will help more students reach their full potential, thereby building a stronger community in Seattle for all of us.
Written by Anna Akers-Pecht, City Year Corps Member serving at Aki Kurose Middle School.