We Stand Tallest When We Help a Child

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December 9  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

YMLS - Willie Brown

Willie Brown with 100 boys from Willie Brown Middle School and 70 male mentors

Here’s food for thought . . . We stand tallest when we bend down to help a child.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted our latest “Young Men’s Leadership Summit” on December 8 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

With 70 caring, adult mentors and 100 middle school students from the Willie L. Brown Middle School in San Francisco’s Bayview District, we focused on the future of these bright, alive and energetic young men.

Coming from an area where nearly 90 percent of their student population is eligible for the government’s “Free and Reduced Price Lunch” program, these are great kids living in financially challenging neighborhoods.

Our focus was on a future made better by staying in, and excelling at, school. By studying math and science. By engaging with others through sports, the arts and in-school and after-school clubs.

A day of inspiration is always a step in the right direction. But a bigger step, the one we as adults all can make, is to take the next step to support and tutor a child. This holiday season, give a kid a better gift. For 2016, commit to just 1 hour a week, for as little as 10 weeks, through Reading Partners or other tutoring programs that link caring adults with K through 8th grade kids in a safe, supportive environments.

Want more information? Contact the Leadership Group. Check out our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative. Bend down; lift up a child. In turn, you will stand taller than you ever have before.

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When Policy Gets Personal

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April 29  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

Women leaders and middle school girls at our 2015 Young Women’s Leadership Summit

Here’s food for thought . . . Often, the best policies are driven from personal experience.

On May 16, 2009, the call came. A brave 17-year-old Latina from a small town in Utah had given birth to a 5-pound, 6-ounce baby girl — her second child in two years. Without a job or high school diploma, she made the gut-wrenching decision to entrust her newborn into the hands of strangers …my wife, Leslee, and me.

As we look at the trajectory of Latinas in Silicon Valley who graduate from high school, go to college, graduate with a STEM degree and work for one of our Valley’s innovation economy companies, the odds decrease to single digits.

This must change. Silicon Valley’s population is 27 percent Latino, a number that will grow to 40 percent by 2050. Already, kindergarten-aged students are close to 50 percent Latino, yet we are collectively not equipping those kids with the tools needed for 21st Century success.

It’s why yesterday, as one step in a long STEM pipeline, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted its 14th “Young Women’s Leadership Summit” in just the past six years. More than 3,500 middle school girls have been inspired – and inspired us – with their dreams and determination for a life better lived with a diploma in hand.

For the Leadership Group’s workplan, the pipeline for education success is long – early childhood education; transitional kindergarten; tutoring in reading, science and math; healthy school meals, summer fellowships for teachers in tech-companies and scholarships for Latino students studying STEM in college. Yet we know that making meaningful change in the life of a child is not limited to one day of inspiration. Rather, it is a lifetime of validation.

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Immigrants Built America

May 23  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Just two generations ago, my grandmother passed through New York Harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty as she emigrated from Sicily to become an American. A teenager crossing the Atlantic Ocean, by boat, for a better way of life.

She raised seven children in a one-bedroom home on North 12th Street in San José. Fast forwards 100 years, her grandson is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

We are a nation of immigrants, standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Our country is now engaged in a great debate. The time for meaningful immigration reform is now. In Silicon Valley, we get this. We know that 53 percent of our engineers were born outside the U.S. More than 40 percent of company CEOs and founders are foreign-born. More than 50 percent of students earning advanced technical degrees in U.S. universities are foreign-born, as are the professors teaching those courses.

At the Leadership Group, meaningful reform includes three essential elements:

  • Make H-1B and green card programs work for America.  Remove the artificially low cap and replace it with a market-based cap.
  • Recruit and retain the best and brightest. Learn from Canada, New Zealand and Australia and provide visas and green cards to entrepreneurs and advanced degree graduates.
  • Prepare today’s generation of American students with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they need to compete globally.

Our country has been a beacon of light to the world. Let’s continue to educate our own students to be their best, and also attract the best from around the globe.

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