I was in Rome last week to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Scholas Occurrentes, an education initiative started by Pope Francis while he was Bishop of Buenos Aires.
I had the extraordinary honor to meet Pope Francis. He is an incredibly warm, open, and casual man; with a calm or serene resolve. I can generally remember our exchange, but must be honest, I’m not sure I could dictate it precisely. Being in his presence fogs your mind a bit, but it was clear upon speaking with the Pope that he’s very serious about addressing inequality. Moreover, he shares our belief in the power of uniting people through shared purpose (just look at the picture). In this instance, it’s ensuring that all people are given the opportunity to achieve through a quality education.
Our partnership will focus on connecting schools in country and around the world so that students and educators who would not ordinarily connect do so. The idea is that best practices will be exchanged and relationships will be built with the objective that all children will succeed academically through community support and access to opportunities in the arts and sports as well. Scholas already has more than 200,000 schools around the world connected virtually through a Google application.
It’s through partnerships like these where the United Way network really shines. For this effort to be successful, Scholas needs both a virtual and brick and mortar network of support. They need organizations and people on the ground in communities around the world to come together through shared purpose. This is what we do every day. United Way advances the common good. We create opportunities for all people. And we do this by inviting people and institutions to make a difference by giving, advocating and volunteering.
We look forward to working with Scholas in the coming weeks to explore means of building out the content of this new partnership. This is a tremendous, mutually-beneficial opportunity to deepen and further extend our individual work. Stay tuned for more to come.