I can’t think of a single topic more important for the healthy development of a community and a city than the quality of the educational options that are accessible to all its children. The Ambassador Program is a way to inform and develop the next generation of community and city leaders to take on the important task of being a steward for the well-being and education of our city’s youth.
–Marco Petruzzi, CEO Green Dot Public Schools National
Engaging diverse stakeholders to grow the capacity of public schools and take effective action to transform public education is a critical objective of the Green Dot Ambassadors, a unique Hands-On Philanthropy program for professionals and emerging leaders in the regions where Green Dot operates. Once accepted to the program, Ambassadors join a community of passionate and successful professionals and learn about what works in public education through five active components – Learn, Volunteer, Advocate, Network, and Give. Each component is informed by history, policy, philanthropy, education, and effective action. Green Dot Ambassadors make a commitment to volunteer in meaningful ways as mentors to our students while helping raise money to level the inequities in public education funding.
Caring For Our City
For Green Dot Ambassadors Will Wang and Cecilia Nguyen, scaling Mt. Whitney—the highest peak in the continental 48 states—was not just an opportunity for a challenging climb, but an opportunity to rally their family, friends, and colleagues in support of Green Dot’s students.
When Will, a Vice President at Oaktree Capital Management, moved to Los Angeles, he says “I was astonished that students in the city’s public schools faced vastly different experiences and significant obstacles to getting a good education.” Cecilia, who credits good public schools with her transition to life in America, is a Case Team Leader at Bain & Company: “I firmly believe that not only can education change a life, but also the life of a family and a community. Green Dot’s principals, teachers and staff inspire me to stay involved as an Ambassador.”
In their sponsored climb of Mount Whitney, Will and Cecilia raised more than $11,000 to help Green Dot address inequity in Los Angeles public schools and connected more than 120 new supporters to Green Dot in the process.
Ambassador support, however, is more than financial. This spring, Will and Cecilia joined other Ambassadors to work with students at Ánimo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School in Watts to mentor students with severe behavioral issues. At the end of the year, Will and Cecilia organized a celebratory excursion to the beach for 25 6th grade students. For many, it was their first time visiting the ocean. Afterwards, the group took an afternoon course with instructors at the best climbing gym in West LA, where they learned rope and belay skills and practiced teamwork.
“Will and Cecilia are fantastic examples of how important it is to connect our students with people from diverse professions,” says Amber Garcia Bowman, Principal at Ánimo James B. Taylor. As she reflects on the day that the students spent at the beach and rock climbing she adds, “These are opportunities that our students may not have had without their support and encouragement.”
In The Ambassadors, A history of diplomacy, Oxford University professor, Jonathan Wright, explains that “…Throughout history…it was through – the eyes of ambassadors – far more than through the grandiose adventuring of conquistadors and circumnavigators, that any particular part of the world got to hear about the others.”
The time that Will, Cecilia, and other Ambassadors volunteer to the program is evidence of the genuine desire of many across the city to take a meaningful and active role in leveling the inequities that trouble public education in Los Angeles. “The Ambassadors is the best way to learn about the challenges and opportunities in public education today,” says Will. “Rather than reading about it, we experience it first-hand. If you’re a business professional, entrepreneur, community leader, or aspiring philanthropist, we invite you to join us as a Green Dot Ambassador.”