Last Saturday, I had the privilege of speaking at commencement at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.  Speaking to young people can often be an energizing experience and, in this case, it helped me focus on our mission here at the Foundation.

If you boil down what we do and why we do it, it really comes back to putting DPS students on a path toward a full educational career and, ultimately, college graduation.  From the pre-schoolers in the “Grow Up Great” program to the high schoolers studying engineering, the students we support will need college degrees in order to compete in the global marketplace.

The latest studies show that a college degree means anywhere from $700,000 to $1,000,000 in lifetime earnings versus stopping education after high school.  Think about the economic impact on our community if we could get significantly more Detroit students to graduate from college.  And it isn’t just about the money.  The life experience of college enhances the lives of graduates but also their families and others around them.

In the commencement speech, I shared one of my favorite quotes, from Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the former president of Morehouse College.  I think it speaks to our Foundation mission and the needs of DPS students:

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.”