Shortly after the 2008 financial crisis, the ramifications began trickling down through all aspects of society—especially in education. With less money, primary and secondary educational institutions began implementing difficult, yet necessary budget cuts. I remember walking into Florida International University’s Office of Entrepreneurship to see an employee, Arlette Pratts, for an information session. To my dismay, she began our conversation—while in tears—by saying, “This is terrible Farrel. Several of my friends who were on the verge of graduation just had their program(s) cut at FIU.” They had no idea what else to do except to start over at another institution. I felt horrible hearing the news. I told her, “I wish that I could do something about the situation. I wish that I could do something to help.” Arlette answered, “You know what Farrel. I wish that You could do something because I know if you could, you would.” From that point on, I embarked on a journey to organize what would become the March for Education.
After my conversation with Arlette, my heart was moved to do something great. However, I was merely a undergraduate student. I didn’t know what to do or where to start. However, I knew my why! I assessed the different movements of the past. When people were fighting for their rights, they didn’t walk on Washington, they Marched on Washington. So we will March for Education. We as a community will come together to stand in solidarity for education. The ensuing question that often followed was: And then what? You have people assemble to demonstrate their concerns for education. And then what? What is the outcome; what is the impact?
Since 2009, we have attempted to execute the March for Education. We grew from a group of students into an organization when I founded the Foundation of the World—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on September 11th, 2009. Over the past seven years, we overcame many hurdles and obstacles. I never gave up because it is not about me. I would look at children when I visited schools or playing on school playgrounds and think that they should not have to worry about their future. Whenever I wanted to give up, I would think about them.
Next, we focused on the impact. We as a non-profit were going select which organizations would benefit from our fundraising efforts. Who do we choose? What’s the criteria? How do we choose? As I began to survey the community and interview different organizations, I found one reoccurring theme. The community was telling me, “we know that there are resources out there. We just don’t know where to find them all.” Then the community-based solutions organizations were saying, “we have resources and know about resources that go to waste every year. If only more people knew about our services, they could benefit from them.” It was then I realized that the main issue was a lack of awareness. Therefore, the March for Education will serve as a critical conduit to raise awareness about the wealth of resources at the community’s disposal. It is at the education fair that something truly special can occur. There, students and families will find out about that one life-changing program that can benefit them, the scholarships they qualify for, and the resources to help them at home. Only then will we have accomplished our goal! That is WHY WE MARCH FOR EDUCATION!