By Kaitlin Rust | January 13, 2019 at 11:46 PM EST – Updated January 14 at 12:18 AM
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis announced a new student initiative Sunday at the Chestnut Street YMCA.
The new initiative gets students to come up with ways they can serve their community and peers educationally.
“Raise the bar, close the gap” has become the mission statement for the Department of Education and Dr. Wayne Lewis.
“We have a long way to go to reach our potential,” said Lewis. “Across any number of indicators, any number of metrics, we are nowhere near the place where we should be satisfied with our progress.”
Lewis said half of Kentucky children entering kindergarten are not prepared.
“There is strong evidence right now that we’re losing kids at the age of four years-old, before they are even enter into kindergarten. It’s real,” said community activist Christopher 2X.
Those numbers are why Lewis began to look for ways to get the ball rolling, and he found Balling for a Cause.
Started just under a year ago by award-winning musician Master P and activist Christopher 2X, the organization enlists student volunteers to canvas low-income neighborhoods, making sure parents understand the importance of getting involved in their children’s education early on.
In turn, it empowers the kids who volunteer, getting them invested in education and their communities.
Lewis came up with the Student Ambassador Initiative, calling for student-based organizations to come up with their own ways to spread the importance of education. The group has to carry it out through the school year and create a video that demonstrates the impact.
“For children in these communities, a high-quality education that prepares them for success in college and the workforce can literally mean the difference between poverty or self-sufficiency, prison or freedom, life or death,” Lewis said in a statement. “We want to recognize and empower passionate students to achieve at higher and higher levels, inspire their peers to work hard and achieve, and actively serve their communities.”
Lewis will award the five groups he sees as making the biggest local impact in March.
All groups interested need to sign up by January 30 here.
Student groups should be from public schools or faith-based and nonprofit organizations and detail their plan to promote education in their community.