Aspiration

Financial firms and social goodwill don't always go hand in hand. But one company, fittingly called Aspiration, challenges that assumption.

Aspiration is a financial institution with a conscience — one built to help serve everyone. That shouldn't be revolutionary, but it is. Perhaps it's worth taking that analogy one step further: Aspiration isn't changing the face of finance. It's giving it a face by restoring a long-absent social conscious to the world of financial services.

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Conscience Coalition
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Aspiration
Rene Moses Ceesay

A remarkable new document will be unveiled to the U.N. today to coincide with International Day of the Girl.

The document wasn't written by professionals. It wasn't cooked up by politicians or commandeered by parents or think tanks; It was written by girls. A thousand girls, to be precise, aged 13 to 22, from myriad ethic and cultural backgrounds, nearly 40 countries and five languages. Girls like India's Vishahka Agrawal, who confesses, "I have seen girls marriages happen before my own eyes. Harmful cultural practices that have been [around] so long they're almost considered accepted." Or Djellza Pulatani, of the U.S. and Kosovo, who shared, "Coming from a patriarchal culture, I have seen and been a direct victim of women's oppression." These young women have peered deep into the dizzying morass of gender-based injustice and teased out a possible antidote.

A Global Girls' Bill of Rights.

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Culture

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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Walgreens

Buckle up, fellow Americans. The caravan is on its way.

Any hour now—any minute—hundreds if not thousands of tiny masked weirdos will spill into our neighborhood streets, invade our porches, bang down our doors—and change the face of this great nation forever.

There’s a strange chill in the air—can you feel it? Beth says that’s just the time of year, but I don’t think so. Feels different. Like the calm before a storm of tiny weirdos dressed like Elsa from "Frozen."

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