Tag Archives: education

United Way Brings Together Greater Philadelphia Business Leaders for Celebration of Women and Leadership

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative hosted its annual gala last evening to celebrate women leaders in philanthropy and volunteerism. Presented by Independence Blue Cross, proceeds from the gala support the work of United Way’s Women’s Initiative, which focuses on programs for at-risk women and girls, including Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow (GTLT), a program that helps at-risk adolescent girls develop self-esteem and leadership skills.

The gala, attended by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and members of the business community, was co-hosted by Sherryann Plesse, principal and chief learning officer at Vanguard and Renee Rhem, vice president, customer service at Independence Blue Cross.  Sixth and seventh grade girls, who are part of the 2012 Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow class, were featured in the program which also recognized Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as the 2012 Women’s Initiative award winner.

“The mission of United Way’s Women’s Initiative and that of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is the same,” said Jill Michal, president and CEO, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “We’re both committed to ensuring the success of women and girls in our region- I know we all left the event feeling inspired by her leadership and passion.”

“The Councilwoman leads by example and her life commitment to women’s issues is evident,” added Amy Frazier, Marketing & Sales Leader at Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Chair of United Way’s Women’s Initiative. “As women, she challenged us to continue to do more for our girls, and our community.”

The Women’s Initiative is comprised of many of the region’s top professional women who give, advocate and volunteer in support of at-risk women and girls. Through United Way’s Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program, girls participate in community- and school-based activities that help them build self-esteem, honor their bodies and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.

The United Way Women’s Initiative is a leadership network committed to philanthropy and volunteerism in the Greater Philadelphia area. The Women’s Initiative is bringing positive change to our community by increasing the impact of women donors, increasing the number of women volunteers, and strengthening programs serving at-risk women and girls.  The Women’s Initiative’s signature program – Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow – is changing the lives of at-risk adolescent girls and supporting area agencies with proven success in serving this vulnerable population.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measure the results. United Way is advancing the common good in southeastern Pennsylvania by focusing on education for children, income for families and health for seniors.

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Verizon Wireless Introduces Educational Programs, invests in New Jersey’s Wireline Communications

AscentiveEducation news from the Ascentive team

On Monday Verizon Wireless announced that it has launched “A Day in the Life of a History Maker” program to celebrate Black History Month. The program, a partnership with the UNCF, Teacher Planet, and Get Schooled, was developed to inspire and motivate high school students across the Philadelphia Tri-State Region by highlighting some of today’s most influential African American history makers.

Students in the Philadelphia Tri-State Region are encouraged to participate in the program by submitting a 500 word essay about how they plan to make history.  Entries will be accepted through March 31, 2012, at the Verizon Insider website. Five lucky winners will receive a chance to meet and spend an afternoon with Amber Riley, star of the hit TV series Glee, in New York City.

Students can also nominate their high school through February 29, 2012, to win a special visit from Ms. Riley. Voting is unlimited and the school with the most votes wins. Additionally, the actress is scheduled to star in five webisode vignettes on topics like education, empowerment, innovation, leadership and inspiration. The vignettes will coincide with themed Lesson Plans of past and present history makers that teachers will be able to download for use in their classrooms.

To further support the program, Terrence J., the star of BET’s 106 & Park, will be participating in a meet and greet on Thursday, February 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless retail store located at 4650 Jonestown Road, Harrisburg, Pa.

“Education and diversity are incredibly important to Verizon Wireless,” said Mario Turco, president of Verizon Wireless, Philadelphia Tri-State Region. “We worked hard to make this multifaceted program relevant to today’s students, and we hope that it inspires them to become great history makers themselves.”

More than 1,000 schools are expected to participate, with more than 1.4 million students and 328,000 educators.  Verizon Wireless will also support this program on Facebook and Twitter.

Investing in New Jersey’s Wireline Communications, IT Infrastructure in 2011

Verizon also continued to bring communications and computing innovation to the state’s consumers and businesses in 2011, investing more than $732 million in its wireline communications network and IT infrastructure throughout the state.

“The communications industry is vital to New Jersey’s economy, and Verizon is the state’s leading private investor in network and IT infrastructure,” said Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey.  “Verizon’s advanced networks serve as fundamental drivers of economic growth and innovation, providing a solid foundation for businesses to innovate, students to learn and people to stay connected.”

“Technology has forever changed the way we communicate, dramatically transforming our business in new and exciting ways,” Bone said.  “Verizon is facing these challenges and opportunities head on, but our future capital investments in New Jersey will be shaped by how well the state’s public policy evolves to create a positive environment for investment and innovation in our industry.”

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Verizon to Educate Youths on CyberBullying

 AscentiveCyberbullying news from Ascentive 

According to a national survey, 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.* Now, South Dakota school children will receive information and resources on what to do if they or a friend is experiencing domestic violence, dating violence and bullying thanks to the partnership between Verizon and the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (The Network) and The Compass Center in Sioux Falls. Attorney General Marty J. Jackley announced the grants of $20,000 to The Network and$10,000 to The Compass Center from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, at a ceremony today.

The grant to The Network builds upon a $13,750 grant from the Verizon Foundation in 2010 for a teen education campaign inSouth Dakota. The Network has 20 partner agencies** that work in their communities in collaboration with local law enforcement, and school districts both public, private and tribal to reach teen and pre-teen school children. The curriculum covers teen dating violence, cyberbullying and domestic violence.

“The Verizon funds allowed the Network and member agencies to provide 138 presentations to 3,153 youth last year and due to the demand for presentations, the funds for two years were utilized in one year,” said Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of The Network.

“The need for prevention education is great and we are excited for the opportunity to partner with Verizon and our member communities for another year.”

The Compass Center will provide teen dating violence and healthy relationship education to youth ages 13 to 18-years-old inMinnehaha, Lincoln, Turner and McCook Counties in southeastern South Dakota. The prevention education programs are planned for The Compass Center, area YMCA/YWCA facilities, after school programs, community centers and Boys and Girls Clubs.

“The goal of the project is to reach out to our youth of today for a brighter and better future tomorrow that helps to end the violence that is taking place in teen dating relationships,” said Patty Brooks, executive director, The Compass Center.

Domestic violence prevention and education are a corporate cause of Verizon. “One of the best ways to prevent teen dating violence, cyberbullying and ultimately domestic violence, is to educate our youth about healthy relationships and what resources are available to help address any problems they, or their friends, may be having,” said Seamus Hyland, president–Great Plains Region, Verizon Wireless. “These educational efforts are important for the communities we serve, for our customers, employees and their families.”

The Verizon Foundation uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours million hours of community service since 2000.

In addition, Verizon Wireless supports domestic violence agencies around the country through the HopeLine® phone recycling and reuse program. Since 2001, HopeLine has collected more than 8 million phones; awarded more than $10 million in cash grants to prevention and awareness programs nationwide; and donated more than 106,000 HopeLine phones with 319 million minutes of airtime to victims, survivors and domestic violence organizations.

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When to Ignore What School Taught Us

I love the truism, “Rules were made to be broken.” Why? Because (tautology alert) it’s so darn true. And when it comes to writing prose, breaking the rules means challenging some of those quaint, rigid little dictums our English teachers drilled into our heads and then enforced with their nasty red pens. I find that when my writing is not jumping off the proverbial page, it’s fun to think back to all those draconian rules about good writing—and then blow them up and create my own.

Join me in my trip back to school, won’t you?

Teacher (imagine an extra-nasally voice): “Always write in complete sentences.”

Subject-verb, subject-verb, subject-verb is boring, boring, boring. Break out of the complete sentence habit and try to “stutter step” your prose a bit. What, you don’t think incomplete sentences can be dramatic and compelling?

Simply not true. (See?)

Incomplete, fragmented sentences contribute to sentence variety by giving you shorter, more impactful spikes amid longer sentences. And often, these type of sentences help to create a mood or help define a character. If you’re writing in first person or third-person limited, for example, using short and fragmented sentences can aid in a portrayal of a distressed or chaotic state of mind.

Pretty cool, huh?

Teacher: “Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which introduces and summarizes the paragraph that follows.”


Again, boring! Ditch the school marm routine and consider leaving revelatory statements at the end of your paragraphs. I call these suspend paragraphs. Start out mysterious, vague, enigmatic, abstract, and then clobber your reader at the end with the truth. And when you think about it, it’s perfectly natural to leave the best bits for the end. Screenwriters know this: they use “suspend sentences” to increase the punch of their dialogue by leaving the most important part of a line at the end. “The butler murdered Mr. Smith behind the greenhouse!” is usually weaker than “Mr. Smith was murdered behind the greenhouse by the butler!”

Teacher: “Your paper must focus on one main point, and everything should be in support of that point.”

In fiction prose, organizing chapters or sections around single “main points” can be stifling. It can lead to a tedious kind of ask-and-answer, “paint by numbers” approach. Whether it’s exposition, characterization, subplots, local color, humor, or thematic material, find a way to chop up your material and sprinkle it throughout your book. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your reader! He or she does not have to be led by the hand. Add some variety, keep ’em guessing, and keep it interesting.

Have any other writing tips or things you think you can ignore from high school English? Please, share!

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Do Current Events Have a Place in Public Education?

classroomI would say that our blog exists very much in the now. We cover mostly business, tech, and blogging current events, and much of our content outside of current event coverage pertains to advice for use in those fields. For our blog, living in the now and understanding how current events affect our daily lives is a huge part of what keeps us going. As the mother of a high school senior and an active PTA member, I’ve learned, through conversations with my daughter and other parents, that the discussion of current events in our country’s social studies classrooms are becoming entirely too rare. This realization is what brings me to my subject for today’s post:Current events and their place in public education.

As any high school history teacher can tell you, much of the curriculum is built around two little letters: AP. Seniors, keen to pass those crucial AP exams to get a jump on college credits (or to increase their chances of being admitted in the first place) memorize endless facts, timelines, and names from centuries gone by in an attempt to score a 4 or 5 on the exam.

But while students cram their brains with when the last western Roman emperor was deposed or who opposed Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, is there any room for current events? Say, the minor matter of those troublesome campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq? Does Osama Bin Laden’s recent death deserve a classroom discussion, for one example? Shouldn’t the memorization of the distant past be balanced with an understanding of the issues and events that might be directly impacting the students?

While I lament the lack of current event discussions in the modern classroom, in writing this post and trying to evaluate things from the teacher’s perspective, it occurred to me that current events can potentially be a very tricky assignment for the modern teacher of history. There is the simple reality of the AP and its power to set agendas in classrooms across America. There is the lack of guidance in the form of standardized curriculum, given the newness of events. But exploring current events also often means delving into the minefield of partisan politics. A generation of talk radio and 24-hour news networks has introduced the concept of partisan bias into the national conversation. Liberal bias is said to infect mainstream media outlets as well as educators, whom right-wing partisans feel are beholden to the reliably democratic National Education Association labor union. In this day and age, parents are especially sensitive to any threat (real or perceived) of indoctrination.

In the case of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, serious matters are often filtered through the prejudiced lenses of partisan politics. Charlemagne or Michelangelo are not Republican versus Democrat powder kegs ready to explode. Even something as relatively recent as the Vietnam War has largely been rescued from the contentious squabbling of Red versus Blue. But as far as discussing the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? That’s still very fresh, and potentially very political.

Indeed, the history teacher must work overtime to avoid the land mines of current events, taking care to check his or her own political leanings at the door, to encourage civilized debate, and to treat all perspectives with respect. The history teacher must also find ways to relate past history to present history, and to always place current events in a partisan-aware yet partisan-neutral context. It may be tempting to stage a rousing left-versus-right debate and let the mud fly, but the public classroom is simply not the place for political grandstanding. In my opinion. the public classroom should never be a battleground. But it must and should be the place for students to understand the present in terms of the past.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this subject. How are current events covered in your child’s public school? Do you feel like there is enough discussion of current events? Are you worried about your child’s teacher’s politics influencing your child’s view of the world?

And taking things a step further: Do you think the current trend of politicizing current events opens the door to partisan debate in the classroom, and potentially even politically motivated bullying?

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