June 13, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – Devon Skerritt knows from personal experience just how challenging the pursuit of higher education can be for first-generation college students. He shared his proposal for training and mentoring those students June 12-14 at a Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Atlanta.
Skerritt, assistant director of employer relations at SMU’s Hegi Career Center, also is pursuing a doctoral degree at SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. His “Possibility Project” envisions a co-curricular after-school program in Dallas and Richardson K-12 schools that would teach young people the skills of social entrepreneurship through training, networking and experiences that prepare for careers.
He describes the plan as “hacking the traditional college and career pipeline” through project-based learning modules co-taught by area social entrepreneurs, nonprofit, government and philanthropy leaders, and facilitated by local college students. Skerritt hopes that his appearance at CGI America will open doors to fully funding his proposal.
“I am a passionate advocate for higher education access and success for underserved populations,” Skerritt said. “Fifteen years ago I became the first person in my family to graduate from a four-year college, and I observed that students like me who grew up low-income, without two parents, and unaware of professional careers were not common at elite universities.”
His “Possibility Project” envisions closing the opportunity gap faced by low-income students with college aspirations by providing training and experiences that bolster their resumes, as well as mentoring and networking to improve their college readiness. He has begun implementing the early stages of his project through SMU’s Hegi Social Impact Fellows, working to engage the student fellows with such programs as Social Venture Partners-Dallas and United Way Groundfloor Incubator.
The Clinton Global Initiative was established in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton to gather global leaders to create and implement creative solutions to world challenges. In addition to the annual meeting, CGI hosts various conferences focused on specific audiences and geographic locations, such as the CGI America event Skerritt will attend.
CGI America brings together leaders in business, philanthropy, government, and nonprofits to develop solutions that encourage continued economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. Each CGI America participant makes a commitment to a new, measurable plan that supports increased economic growth and opportunity.