“There is one rule: if you give up, you won’t win,” states Angeles Echols-Brown, founder and executive director of the non-profit Educating Young Minds, based in Los Angeles, California. “You have to give parents and kids options, choices,” in order for them to see the possibilities for their lives. Since 1987, Educating Young Minds has been solving some of the thorniest problems for at-risk young people by decreasing school dropout rates, improving GPAs, providing technology for education and programs for underserved neighborhoods, increasing college acceptance, reducing juvenile incarceration, and encouraging parent/ guardian engagement with resources. For Angeles, education solves these problems. “Can you imagine,” she asks, “the energies unlocked and unleashed when kids have the resources they need?”
The Trilogy Mentors platform is “absolutely a huge part of this,” Angeles explains.
“Imagine two 13 year old boys,” she says, “who hate to read and struggle with math. What is the probability you can reach them and help them in a class of 25-35 kids? It’s the holistic component that makes the difference.” This is what led her to Trilogy Mentor’s software which is technology built to facilitate the connection between student and tutor, so the adult can support the whole child in school and life. Trilogy Mentors believes that the best teaching happens when there is a connection between mentors and students, so the online classroom delivers a superior learning environment where the instructor can address each child’s specific needs. And why did Angeles choose Trilogy Mentors? “It’s the spirit of ‘we can do this together.’ It is why I like [Trilogy Mentors founder] John. I get him, his vision, his staff. It takes all of us working together” to solve these problems.
As COVID-19 began forcing schools to close, Angeles shut down her 16,000 square foot learning center. A disruption, certainly, but moving to more online support was “in our spirit years ago. We were prepared,” she explains. She collated educational data on each child, received donations of additional tablets and laptops, made instructional plans, called meetings with and sent letters to EYM families, and scheduled online training for kids, parents, and teachers. Angeles and her husband organized and dispensed materials needed for distance learning. With the help of the Trilogy Mentors team and their online classroom and support tools, in less than 2 weeks EYM connected over 100 students and teachers entirely online. The mantra Angeles imparted to all EYM teachers: “Assess the varied needs of all our students and do our best.”
The turmoil of COVID-19, according to Angeles, has “opened the door to all kinds of opportunities because we don’t have time to delay judgment on whether or not this form of education is needed.” Kids need help now. Because people have tapped into this spirit of cooperation, asking the question Angeles asked years ago, “How can we help you?” COVID-19 allows her and her organization to address much faster the disparities found in the communities they serve. Educating Young Minds, built by a visionary leader, lives by this belief: If it doesn’t work, try something else. Never give up. Help kids discover abilities and options they never knew they had.