By Roxanne Leone
The year was 1985. I was only 13 and Microsoft was in its 10th year and it was just starting to sink in that this company could, possibly, change the world. It wasn’t until I was much older that I took note of the founders philanthropic side and how Bill Gates proudly supported his wife, Melinda, and his family in the quest to make the world a better place.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was launched in the year 2000 to reduce inequity. The foundation, which supports education and health, strives to increase low-income students’ college completion rates and ensure that all students have access to high-quality education. It also tackles sky-rocketing tuition and aims to address making college more affordable.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2017), “about 59 percent of students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2009 completed that degree within 6 years; the graduation rate was higher for females than for males (62 percent vs. 56 percent).” (Source: National Center for Education Statistics)
Growing up in the 1980’s, I remember daydreaming about using a computer, attending college and earning a diploma for a 9 to 5 job. Fortunately, I had middle-class parents that saw the value of higher education with only one that completed high school. Together, they worked day and night to pay for my 4-year degree that I earned in 1994. But not all young women can afford college.
Perhaps you have similar goals to Bill Gates, such as empowering the poorest, especially women and girls, to finish college and find employment which will help their families and communities flourish. With increasing the number of college-educated workers, our national economy will remain competitive and place new graduates into promising careers.
How can you help empower women to stay in school?
1. Get involved. The Foundation Cares program makes it easier for not-for-profit organizations and community organizations to connect with their employees to discuss volunteering, speaking engagements and more.
2. Donate your time. Become a volunteer for the Women’s Global Leadership Initiative on a specific project or ongoing basis. Whether your expertise is marketing, human resources, social media or another field, we need your help to guide women to be the best they can be.
3. Become a tutor. Apply to work as a tutor with an organization such as University Tutor and help women stay in college to earn their desired degree by contributing your time in person or online.
Bill Gates has been admired by many inspiring entrepreneurs throughout his career and the support he provides to his wife, his family, and his community does not go unnoticed. During the month of Father’s Day, think of all the male role models in your life, and keep learning!