Despite the economic status and prestige of America as a global superpower, its system of education has become increasingly fallible, resulting in a widening economic and educational divide between those endowed with monetary resources and those who experience economic hardship and instability. Such an issue has become pervasive, impacting the nation’s educational infrastructure on both a regional and national scale, thus creating inequality in learning resources. To assuage this contentious issue, a group of students in Katy, Texas has created an organization dubbed “INSPO,” in order to allow underprivileged students to further explore their academic interests outside the classroom environment. INSPO is a 501(c)(3) registered not-for-profit organization based in the Katy ISD school district within Texas. Given our emphasis on the importance of highlighting student success, especially in altruistic endeavors, the remainder of this article will provide insight as to the inspiration, successes, and impact of INSPO through a digital interview with the leaders of the organization.
We think it’s great how the organization was able to find a need within a surrounding community, devise a plan to meet this need, and execute with support from others. What inspired the creation of INSPO, and how does the organization plan to further facilitate community outreach initiatives in the near future?
Thank you for reaching out to us Ryan, we are glad to be working with you and SuccessBaseMass! The education disparity within our community is one of the most persisting problems affecting millions of students across our country. Upon entering high school, we noticed how much the education gap within the greater Houston area is preventing underprivileged students from pursuing their academic passions. Houston, although one of the most diverse cities in the country, is one of the most economically polarized ones as well. We have affluent communities such as Piney Point Village lying adjacent to comparatively lower-income areas like Alief. INSPO was mainly founded to bridge the education gap within our community as well as bring awareness to these inequities. We also hope to be able to introduce more initiatives such as mentoring and tutoring that will focus on specific aspects of education to better connect and further our impact on the students.
Starting a non-profit organization, especially with a goal as significant as INSPO’s, is not an easy feat. What steps were needed to formally create INSPO, and what obstacles were encountered in the process of officially creating the organization?
We tried to gather a group of like-minded individuals who had a passion for helping out our community. Finding students that truly wanted to champion positive change and who were intrinsically motivated was one of the biggest struggles, but once we had identified a solid lineup, attaining our 501(c)(3) status and becoming formally recognized was all plain sailing. A major principle we focused on was building a team based on the diversity of thought. While being a team of like-minded students, we wanted a group that was capable of pitching in unique ideas, to have different means toward a common end goal.
To amass such a number of volunteers and resources in a relatively short time is truly impressive, and speaks to the dedication and commitment of the board. What was the team’s strategy to attract volunteers and donations, as well as involve students at member high schools in Katy ISD?
Thank you for the kind words, Ryan. Because INSPO runs under a large and diverse board of directors, we can easily reach out to students from different areas in Katyisd. This made it easy for us to find students who align with our mission statement and are eager to introduce our organization to their schools. Through our chapters, students volunteer regularly at the Friends of HPL Book warehouse, mentor and tutor with various organizations, and lead drives. As for donations, by reaching out to friends, neighbors, and various other groups in the Houston area, we were able to find not only people willing to donate items but also reputable/credible organizations to donate those items too.
Regarding volunteers and other students, how many students are currently active contributors to the organization, and has INSPO partnered with additional service-oriented organizations?
We have active members in our school chapters that host events in order to donate resources to underprivileged education centers in the greater Houston area. When we host drives, students and families in our community are always excited to contribute to our cause. For our first book drive, we were able to collect over 500 books to donate to underprivileged schools, all of which were donated by our local communities. Currently, we are working with another youth-based non-profit in Houston TX called WISH. We are currently in the process of designing an event that will be accessible nationwide, so be sure to keep up with us on our social media/website for more information and future updates.
While the short-term impact of a non-profit organization can significantly contribute to aiding a target population, the long-term sustainability of such aid is equally important. Where do the leaders of INSPO see the organization in 5 years?
We hope to broaden our impact by ultimately being able to serve students beyond the greater Houston area by starting more chapters and initiatives. INSPO has a broad goal of bridging the education gap within our community; however, we aspire to launch initiatives in the future that will focus on certain aspects within the scope of education. Considering that our executive team members will be graduating soon and going our separate ways, in 5 years’ time, we hope to continue the legacy and extend our impact as we continue down new paths. Our commitments to INSPO will persist after high school, and in the coming years, we will work unceasingly to mitigate the socioeconomic barriers among students and broaden our horizons. Ultimately, we wish to inspire students to reach their maximum potential, and being able to personally resonate with the students is really important to us.
We think INSPO may inspire others to also pursue service and provide aid in an increasingly involved way. To conclude, what advice does INSPO have for middle school and high school students looking to contribute to their communities on a more magnified scale? Thanks for your time and we enjoyed this experience greatly!
Because our executive team founded INSPO at a relatively young age, it would be a lie to say we’ve never felt overwhelmed with the idea of starting something that we plan to have such a large impact on others. However, a lot of the stress is alleviated when you are able to find someone, or a group of people, with the same goals as you and who want to go through the growth process with you. For us, this was possible due to the co-founding of a diverse executive board along with a skilled and reliable team to divide the work amongst. Once you’re able to find something you’re passionate about, build a team and start working!