Justin L. is a rising senior at North Gwinnett High School and was a student in the 2019-2020 Atlanta Summer Social Innovators Academy cohort.

Justin has been volunteering for a while, providing homework help and supplemental tutoring and activities for families in the Clarkston area, which is home to many refugee communities. While he still enjoys his work with these groups, he decided he also wanted to do something closer to home.

Justin found some of the statistics regarding education inequality in his community to be staggering, which inspired him to start his project. “I was motivated to start my project after I noticed the rather harsh discrepancies between the achievement levels between my school and the other schools in my county / district,” said Justin. “I began to do some research, and I realized that the gerrymandering of the school districts resulted in significant differences in the socioeconomic levels of each school, which in turn impacted the funding and resources given to each school. My project not only wants to raise awareness for these practices but also seeks to redefine how education and privilege should not be intertwined as students cannot inherently pick which school to attend.”

His project aims to close this education gap by partnering with local non-profit to teach students from low-income or single-parent families that cannot afford private tutoring. The name of his project, “Our Ceiling, Their Floors,” was inspired by a speech he heard from a graduating senior at his school. The concept refers to “the potential for the current generation to influence, impact, and improve the conditions for our future generations.” He also adds “From climate change to large income inequality, it is imperative that we are always mindful of the future, and my project embodies this message through educational reform.”

“If we truly want to use education as the path for our youth to improve their living conditions, why should we prevent a substantial portion of valuable human capital from accessing the resources needed to become a more educated society?”

Justin’s SIA experience taught him about “the detailed planning process required to start an organization. I also learned the many ways in which I can become a social entrepreneur to help bring positive change for the future.” Additionally, “I was able to meet some of the most interesting, unique, and creative people from the metro-Atlanta area from my peers in the cohort to the speakers and leaders who made all of this possible,” said Justin.

We can’t wait to see what amazing things Justin accomplishes with his project in the future!

Have a passion that you are ready to put into action like Justin? We still have a few spots left for our fall Saturday SIA program! Learn more and apply today: bit.ly/applySIA19