Extraordinary Evening with KUZA

KUZA, the Portland-based non-profit dedicated to transforming Uganda through education, held an extraordinary gala Saturday night in the Pearl District at Castaway.  Nearly 300 people attended the evening, learning about Africa, Uganda, and using education as a tool of social change.  Our own Ian Symmonds keynoted the event on "Why Africa, and Why KUZA", while executive director Sara Reamy made the case for the organization.  Long-standing KOIN-TV anchor Mike Donahue played emcee, leading the magical evening.  KUZA has been one of several Just Cause client efforts over the past several years.  For more information, please check out KUZA online.



Ed-Activists and Peaceful Revolutions

Ian keynoted at the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy Odyssey Fundraiser Luncheon yesterday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.   His topic focused on education as a tool of social transformation and as the primary success factor for solving poverty.  Charging community leaders and attendees who support the school as "ed-activists who were waging a peaceful revolution on poverty", Ian laid out research on the individual and community benefits to educational attainment.  

The luncheon was the fifth annual benefit for CGLA.  Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy opened five years as a charter school serving girls from the inner city. The curriculum has a high focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and sends nearly 100% of its students - most of whom emerge from low socioeconomic groups - to college.  A surprise appearance from country star Jimmy Wayne, who has his own story of overcoming poverty, ended the event.  Check out his performance with some members of the CGLA choir below.

ISA Announces "Just Cause" Talk

Ian will be featured as the keynote speaker at the 5th Annual Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy Odyssey on February 11th.  The Odyssey is the premier annual fundraiser for the charter school that proves access to high quality education to distressed students in Chattanooga.  Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy is the focus of our Just Cause campaign this year, as we are delivering strategic planning and research services to the school.

Ian's talk - "Education as an Instrument of Social Change" - will highlight data that demonstrates education as a proven recipe for breaking cycles of injustice, poverty, and inequality.  His talk will be featured on PBS in the Chattanooga region and will be available immediately on our website after the talk.

ISA Launches Just Cause Project

We're launching a strategic planning and visioning process today at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy. The process will ongoing throughout the academic year with community leaders, faculty, staff, and administration collaborating on the project.

The Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy provides girls and young women with a rigorous college preparatory education focused on math, science, and technology in a supportive environment that nurtures self confidence, inspires leadership, encourages critical thinking, and promotes academic excellence.


The Future is Africa

Why should Africa matter to educators in the Western world?  Here are a few facts that you might want to consider, courtesy of our good friends at TED, the Global Fund, and the United Nations.

  • By 2050, Africa will be twice the population of China and home to one-third of the youth of the world.
  • 10 million people have had their lives saved from near certain death from anti-viral medications provided from The Global Fund, Product (RED) revenue, and the collective efforts of the One campaign.
  • There are 2.65 million fewer deaths of children under five - per year - when compared to the year 2000.  That is 7256 fewer children dying each day.
  • 10 nations in sub saharan Africa - Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Mauritania, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and Uganda - have had 100% of cancellation of debt, a ten-fold increase of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and a tripling in domestic aid in the last decade.  The result has cut childhood mortality by a third, doubled education completion rates, and cut the percentage of their population living in extreme poverty by half. 
  • Africa is generally pro-Western world and has high affinity for American values, such as entrepreneurial business, democracy, and social justice.
  • Most recent economic impact studies continue to demonstrate that the bulk of the world's natural resources reside in Africa and have yet to be truly unleashed to improve the plight of African people.
  • The global fight on terror will increasingly be waged in Africa.

The numbers are startling.  Death rates are down. Education completion is up.  Foreign investment is on the rise.  Debt cancellation is common.  The percentage of people living in extreme poverty has been halved since 2000.  The world's greatest natural resources - and pro-Western views - reside in Africa.

Educators - let's pay attention to Africa. In your curriculum, language and culture studies, in your outreach and recruitment, and in your strategic thinking.  This shift is happening fast. 

Just Cause

Eliminating extreme poverty is not an act of charity, but an act of justice.  Today, when scientific advances and technology have improved the lives of so many, it is simply unacceptable when poverty stands in the way of child's shot at a good future.  Unacceptable. 

Poverty has many faces - low income, malnutrition, inadequate medical care - all worthy issues, but they reflect symptoms of a larger problem.  Our experience - and the data - tells us that education is the only antidote that breaks the cycle of structural poverty.  Success occurs when children in distressed circumstances see a path out of poverty attainable through education.  Don't get us wrong - medicine and aid go along way in sustaining a life in poverty.  But education is the game changer.  

Just Cause is our campaign to change the conversation about poverty.  The Just Cause campaign has two essential purposes: 

  1. We seek to increase access to quality education for distressed children through a communication campaign designed to change the conversation about poverty.
  2. We partner with one organization each year to help them achieve their access mission by providing pro bono strategic services to them.  

We will be working with two strategic partners this fall on Just Cause programs, including the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy and Breakthrough Manchester, putting our collective time and energy into organizations that are actively working to break the cycle of poverty.   

Let's change the conversation about poverty.  At the end of the day, we all know that education is the game changer in a kids life.  Help us out by sharing this article on your social media feeds and join our campaign.

ISA Selects CGLA for Just Cause 2013-14

The ISA Team has selected the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy for our Just Cause parter for the 2013-14 year.  The CGLA in Tennessee is a single gender, small learning community for girls from primarily disadvantaged circumstances in grades 6-12. The college preparation curriculum is centered on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). With an extended day and a year round calendar, CGLA offers girls an accelerated and integrated remediation approach that is intended to move them to proficient and advanced levels within core academic subjects. A range of social supports that reflects girls’ social development needs are integrated into the educational experience.  

Just Cause is the ISA campaign to change the conversation about poverty.  The Just Cause campaign has two essential purposes: 

  1. We seek to increase access to quality education for distressed children by changing the conversation about poverty.
  2. We partner with one organization each year to help them achieve their access mission by providing pro bono strategic services to them.  

We take on one research and strategy consulting project per year under the Just Cause campaign, for which we receive many inquiries for services. These are typically pro bono or reduced fee consulting projects assisting educational organizations that serve distressed populations of children or youth.  

Let's Change the Conversation on Poverty. We all know that transformation requires education.  Let's change the conversation on poverty.  Join our campaign by sharing our Just Cause page to others or tweeting your thoughts to the hashtag #JustCause.   

The U2 Effect

Most people who know me well are well aware of my found appreciation for the rock band U2.  I have been a fan for nearly 30 years, love their music, and even took my kids out of school to see the U2 360 Tour live at the Rose Bowl.  But, what most don't know is why I appreciate them for far more than their music. 

U2 is perhaps one of the most strategic organizations I have observed.  From a pure marketing perspective, they have been operating under the same positioning concept for three decades: peace, love, and justice.  While their music has changed over the years, they have undeniably used this platform to not only sell music, but change the world.  Their activist strategy has push their ongoing relevance.  They have an uncanny ability to remain relevant through changing times and aging voices.  They insert their voice into issues that are relevant to the times.  They are still one of the few bands that you will hear all ages not only listen, but also relate.

For a dose of their most recent market relevance, check out this acoustic version of Sunday Bloody Sunday, just released by the One campaign, to focus on the elections in Iran.   


What's Your Just Cause?

Eliminating extreme poverty is not an act of charity, but an act of justice.  It is unacceptable when poverty stands in the way of child's shot at a good future.  We have a role to play in ending the structural poverty faced by distressed children and youth.  Just Cause is our campaign to do it.  Here is an update our on Just Cause progress.

We are wrapping up our work with the Mississippi Children's Museum this month.  Working with our partners on the steering committee, we have revamped the mission and vision statements, enhanced the core values, and developed an ambitious strategic plan for the future.  In just two years of complete operation, the Museum continues to break new ground - and attendance records - for inspiring at risk youth in Mississippi.  The new plan will seek to reach more audiences statewide.

We are seeking a strategic partner for Just Cause for the 2013-14 academic year.  We continue to receive inquiries for our services.  Interested prospective clients should contact our firm and review our Just Cause page no later than July 15th for consideration for services in the next selection process.