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Spotlight Nonprofit: Creating educational equity with “graphic” calculations

LatinaLista — Every college-bound high school junior and senior knows the drill when it comes to taking their SAT tests — get plenty of rest, bring extra pencils with erasers and make sure there’s an extra set of batteries for the graphing calculator.

The graphing calculator is the one tool that students know can mean the difference between passing or failing, finishing or not finishing the SAT. Yet, with a price tag around $100, the graphic calculator is a luxury item for low-income students. It’s a “graphic” reality that was brought home to one educator.

“While working with inner city students in Miami, I stressed the importance of arriving at the SAT prepared,” said Laura Wilson. “Bring your calculators, extra batteries, extra erasers, tissues…” One student, Allison, raised her hand and asked, ‘What should I do if I can’t afford a graphing calculator?'”

It was a question that blew Wilson away and made her mad. Mad at herself for not realizing it sooner and mad at the educational system that didn’t do enough to provide educational equity for all students. It was on that day that Wilson knew what she had to do.

She created a special non profit called Graphing It Forward — Today or GIFT.

GIFT collects used graphing calculators and test prep books and gives them to college-bound students whose families can’t afford the SAT tools and preparation booklets before the next standardized test date. Wilson also created WilsonDailyPrep and offers the educational content of their online services to underprivileged students.

“These tools will help students achieve their dreams of higher education and upward mobility,” said Wilson.

In addition to donating calculators and test prep booklets, Wilson created a variety of ways to help students get the necessary tools. She created “Adopt a Student” where supporters can get to know the personal stories of the children who need the testing tools and donate specifically to those students, along with, the “Pass it Forward” program where people pass along information about GIFT to their networks.

Believing that a successful student is one that is well-rounded, Wilson created opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills and have access to community service opportunities.

Imagine looking across the aisle on test day and watching other students plug in numbers on their graphing calculators, while you’re forced to perform complicated calculations by hand. Imagine knowing that most, if not all, of these students had access to SAT preparation classes and books. Imagine how futile it seems, staring at your test, knowing you’re competing against kids who have had so many more educational resources at their disposal. We know you would be saying to yourself, “How can this be fair?”

The answer: IT’S NOT.

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