Message From Richard: Everything Is Local

We marched. We chanted. We held up signs. 

Millions rallied in cities across the country to voice concerns about issues that are important to us: health care, immigration, education, national security, gender equality, and much more.  If anything, the current political climate is making us pay attention to a myriad of issues that affect our lives everyday.  People are now hungry to take action.  Town by town, city by city, state by state, we are eager to translate our rallies into action that can make a difference. And though much attention has been focused on what the President, his Cabinet, and the U.S. Congress do, a lot of what these issues require is local action.

Take education for example. The federal share of the nation's education budget is less than 9 percent -- a majority of the funds we spend on education is largely generated from states and local school districts. Sure, national policies are shaped at the federal level, but there is also a larger part that is shaped by local policies and local context. 

There is so much we can do in our own local neighborhoods as far as improving the learning experiences of our young residents. 

We can support local nonprofits providing learning opportunities to young people, participate in reading programs in libraries and read to children, we can mentor, and provide internships and apprenticeships in our places of business.

At the Andy Roddick Foundation, there are opportunities to get involved. Although the core of our work is providing expanded learning opportunities to students in the summer and during after-school hours, the need to increase awareness about the benefits of out-of-school time programs is bigger than we alone can address. We need more champions and advocates to spread the word that much of the learning opportunity gap can be addressed through high quality programs during the time when students are not in school.  Students throughout Austin pretty much have the structure and instruction they need during the school hours, but once that school bell rings at the end of a school day, the opportunity gaps become more evident. 

So, while our summer learning program utilizes caring certified teachers to provide high quality experiences for children, there are many more opportunties to lend your voice to our cause and advocate for the importance of afterschool and summer learning with your family, friends and community leaders. In addition, we need individuals to help at our spring luncheon and signature concert gala. As we expand our work, we also need help and advice on how to expand strategically and efficiently, employing innovative approaches to business expansion.

We are all eager to see change for the better happen. We want to see our community being responsive to the myriad of challenges we face including how to make sure every young person in our community have the opportunity to learn, thrive, and succeed. But change only comes when action is taken. We may not be able to have direct influence over federal policy, but we do have direct control over what happens in our neighborhoods.