By Bunmi Esho
How I discovered the power of partnerships.
About 20 years ago, I’d started my first “real job” at a tech company when a good friend of mine asked that I join her in volunteering for a local after-school program. If I was being honest, working with children was never something I aspired to do but I figured I could support my friend for one evening. That was the day I found my calling.
The students I worked with were 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and a lot of their realities mirrored mine: children of immigrants, multilingual background, Black and Brown, navigating a system with structured barriers. I spent two years volunteering with the program, while adding more volunteer opportunities to my plate, before coming to the conclusion that I needed to pursue this as a full-time career. I left my job to pursue a master’s in education, taught for a few years and learned what had already been evident for me as a volunteer: to make the type of impact I wanted, I needed to be doing the work outside of the classroom, in partnership with the school and community at large; that started my journey into educational nonprofits and the power of partnerships.
In my career as an engineer, educator and nonprofit leader, the partnerships I’ve formed have been critical to the work I’ve done. Partnerships move mountains but they are not easy. Real partnerships force us to look inward, to do the necessary self reflection to improve ourselves. They help seed innovation. They are vital for inclusivity. And in 2021, at a time when the pandemic has highlighted the ever-increasing digital and education gap in our society, the Endless OS Foundation is making partnerships our call to action.