You only have to look back two generations to understand Jonah Edelman’s commitment to serving children.
As co-founder and CEO of Stand for Children, he is carrying on a legacy of service that began with his grandparents.
They started their town’s first home for the aged and took in 22 foster children. Jonah’s mother, Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, and his father, Peter, have stood up for civil rights, equal opportunity, and children's wellbeing their entire careers.
Jonah’s focus is on education which he believes is the key to success in life. And, as he will tell you, there’s a lot of work to be done in the more impoverished communities across the country.
In the United States today, more than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year. Nearly 50% of students in low-income communities will not graduate from high school. The mission of Stand for Children is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education.
Jonah is committed to mobilizing an army of Americans around a common goal of making public schools better and changing the odds in favor of every child’s future. The way to make this happen, Jonah says, is to raise the bar of achievement for everyone involved in the education process – including the students themselves.
Stand for Children is at work in 11 states, empowering parents, teachers and the community to demand excellent schools, to elect leaders who will make quality education for all a priority, and to advocate for effective education policies and investments at the local, state and national levels.
Since 1999, Stand for Children has championed countless policy and budget choices that continue to benefit millions of children today. And Jonah believes starting early is critical, which is why Stand for Children advocates universal pre-kindergarten.
“Only 59% of our poorest four-year-olds are in pre-K, compared to 90% of America’s wealthiest children,” he says. “This hurts those kids’ futures and it hurts the U.S."
By 2015, Stand for Children will help prepare more than 17 million students in 14 states graduate high school, and be prepared for college.
For Jonah that is a big step in the right direction.
“I think we can all agree that our students need to be more, not less, prepared for life and for the workforce.”