Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

The Latest from CoGenerate

Overheard on Text: Imposter Syndrome

Overheard on Text: Imposter Syndrome

As colleagues from different generations (x/millennial), we’ve been leading talks and workshops sharing our insights about working across generations – what we call “cogeneration.” As we plan, we’re usually texting furiously, sharing ideas and reflections. So we...

This Cogenerational Pair Calls for ‘Radical Inclusion’ of Youth

This Cogenerational Pair Calls for ‘Radical Inclusion’ of Youth

I was thrilled when I heard about the new book, Why Aren’t We Doing This! Collaborating with Minors in Major Ways, written by Denise Webb, age 20, and Wendy Schaetzel Lesko, age 73, (both pictured above) and published by Youth Infusion, a clearinghouse co-founded by...

Music Is Having a Moment — And It’s a Cogenerational One.

Music Is Having a Moment — And It’s a Cogenerational One.

Sunday’s show featured three big moments reminding us that music can be a bridge not only across race, culture, and genre, but also age. Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs. Much attention, rightfully, has gone to the duet between Tracy Chapman, who turns 60 next month,...

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Jane Wholey

Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools
Purpose Prize Fellow 2008

Helping students displaced by Hurricane Katrina lead the city in reinventing their schools

A professional media consultant, Jane Wholey had long been frustrated by New Orleans’ dismal school system, where 75 percent of 8th graders scored “below basic” in English and ten superintendents had passed through in ten years. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Wholey interviewed middle-school children back in town after a year’s displacement who spoke in awe of amenities in good schools elsewhere. Wholey founded Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools to publicize their stories and generate action to rebuild a better New Orleans school system. Wholey saw that children’s innocent amazement at schools with clean toilets could get media attention and shame officials into action. In 2006, at age 59, she formed Rethink, a collaboration of planners, architects, artists, educators and media experts, to help marginalized youth lead the city in ‘rethinking’ public schools. The children told a news conference that schools they had attended outside New Orleans had enough chairs for everyone to sit simultaneously; libraries with books; and lockers. Then they described what the schools of their dreams would be like. Media publicized the students’ innocent yet hard-hitting presentation, and busy professionals in different disciplines were inspired to work together across race and culture. The superintendent responded by repairing 300 school bathrooms and committed to opening Rethink Clubs in all 23 of the elementary and middle schools. “I will own up to some deep fears about taking on this job. But in the end, my rationale is simple: Why not?”