Let your voice be heard: End the high costs of prison phone calls

Did you know that more than 15,000 children in Minnesota may not have the chance to send holiday greetings to their parents? This is because these children have an incarcerated parent. Due to the high costs of prison phone calls, it is difficult for many of these children to remain in contact with their parents during the holiday season. The harsh reality is that a 15-minute collect phone call received from a loved one who is incarcerated can cost roughly $6.45. Further, these children may also miss the opportunity to visit and spend quality time with their parents, since prisoners are incarcerated an average of 100 miles away from home and their families. As you can see, phone calls are truly a vital source of communication in order for families to remain connected. The Campaign for Prison Phone Justice seeks to ensure that children and families can remain in contact with their incarcerated loved ones by advocating for the costs of prison phone calls to be capped at a reasonable amount. Continue Reading

Bryan Stevenson: Ending the silence about the mass incarceration crisis

Bryan Stevenson is lifting his voice to end the silence about America’s mass incarceration crisis. This visionary leader is committed to reforming the criminal justice system and building a more just society. Mr. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). EJI is a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Continue Reading

Harambee: Let’s pull together to dismantle the cradle-to-prison pipeline

During my recent travels to Tanzania, I had the opportunity to learn more about the education system. The most important lesson I learned was community members play a key role in the building a network of support for each student. This network plays a critical role in accelerating academic achievement and advancing personal development. While visiting classrooms in Tanzania, I met aspiring doctors, lawyers, engineers and even a young woman who stated confidently, “I will be president of Tanzania.” Throughout our visit, I witnessed firsthand community members working together to help children learn, thrive and grow. I also watched as the adage that it takes a village to raise a child came alive. One example is the notion of “harambee” which means “let’s pull together.” Continue Reading

How I discovered my inner superhero

Discover your inner superhero

As a child, superheroes were larger than life. Superheroes defeated villains, overcame impossible feats, and used their powers to advance the cause of justice. An untold story about the history of comic book superheroes is that they represented the very essence of gladiators for justice. They took a courageous stand to address issues like poverty and oppression while yet promoting liberty and justice for all. For example, Superman represented the ultimate the level of strength and power beyond the restraints of one’s imagination. While, Batman used his intellect and skills to overcome evil and promote the common good. Or better yet, Flash defied the limitations of time and space in his quest for justice. Like your favorite superhero, you too can take a courageous stand for justice. You can leverage your technical training and leadership skills as tools to leave the world a better place than how you found it. Continue Reading

TEDx Talk: Education for social change

What is in your hands to make a difference in the world? Dr. Artika Tyner raises this important question during each student interaction. Dr. Tyner shared her thoughts on taking action to reimagine education at the inaugural at TEDxUniversityofStThomas. The title of her TEDx Talk was: Education for Social Change. Her vision for reimagining education begins with placing an explicit focus on leadership development and social justice advocacy. Continue Reading

Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th anniversary: A primer in leadership

The exercise of leadership is the foundation for creating social change. Freedom Summer of 1964 serves as a primer on how to lead social change movements. In 1964, over 700 students from across the nation gathered in Mississippi to take a stand for justice. Their work is evidence that leaders play a critical role in setting the moral compass of a nation. This transformative power is leveraged through the exercise of influence. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described the power of influence when he stated: “I refuse to accept the idea that man is […] unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.” Continue Reading