What we value: Opportunities, Lives, and Bullets

What we value: Opportunities, Lives, and Bullets

skastrul's picture

i.c.stars is growing, and as we grow we often have interesting conversations about “What’s next?” Recently I was having a chat with Tasha Levy, our Chief Learning Officer, about night school. We talked about forming a partnership with a co-working space at a national level, that would open up learning and leadership opportunities for i.c.stars all over the country.

i.c.stars interns work 12 hour days, five days a week. That is so that they can client face and work on deliverables during the day and develop their technology skills at night. One of the value propositions of this potential partnership is that our night school and evening workshops - open to interns and recent graduates called residents - would be open to members of the coworking space, too. So if you’re a CEO and you want to learn Python, you could attend i.c.stars night school along with our interns.

The possibility is pretty exciting. But we wondered how the inclusion of non-i.c.stars people would impact our folks? What would happen if non-i.c.stars attendees outnumbered i.c.stars participants? Would it change the value for i.c. stars interns? And I think that’s such an interesting question, the question is about value.

We value what we pay for. I recently had a discussion with an i.c.stars alumni who asked me what I thought of this trend of school shootings and gun control. In turn, I asked her, “What if we charge a thousand or a hundred thousand dollars per bullet?” By the look on her face, I know that must have sounded out of left field, but What if bullets were the thing that was expensive? Not only would it cut a lot of people off from being able to purchase them but it would make us think about the value of a life? We would say with the price of a single bullet, this is the beginning price of taking a life.

I think that the problem that we have, in so many cases, is that we have lost sight of the value of a life. I can’t even begin to get inside the head of a mass shooter and think about how or why they would do something like that, but I can say that what things cost is a universal communicator about value. What are we saying about the value of a life when we make bullets and high-capacity magazines so cheap? How do we communicate that this ammunition has the potential to take a life and with that power comes great responsibility and should be priced according to how we value life, the greatest potential of all.

We talk about our values all the time, but I don’t know that we always talk about what it is that we truly value. A life is the ultimate container of potential and every life has potential. Potential to do harm, potential to love, potential to change, potential to grow and innovate. As a body politic, as a society, until we value the lives of others, our values don’t stack up. And the currency that we use to define what we value above all else, whether good or bad, is cash and we use it as a method of power and influence. So why are bullets so cheap?

I think that’s a very revealing realization because the truth is that we value what we pay for and the price we pay for it. Residents of i.c. stars come through this four-month internship, each seat comes at a cost. They get training and mentoring and project experience and yet, they do not pay boot camp prices. Does that decrease the value of the opportunity?

I think it speaks to the point of all that we get versus all that we give. When I give my money to something, I’m expecting a return of goods or services. And the more I pay, the higher quality I expect. When something impacts the potential of a life, good or bad the price should reflect the value of all that life has the potential to give.

We believe that the potential of our alumni are worth investing in. The transformational experience of the internship comes with an inheritance of social, financial, and intellectual capital. I challenge our alums to ask themselves, “Am I getting more than I give?” “Am I investing my capital in the communities in which I work, serve and live?” “Am I investing in an equitable future for all of our graduates?” Doing anything less would make the i.c.stars experience a charitable transaction, and i.c.stars isn’t a charitable cause organization. Remember, we are all charity until we give.

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About Sandee

Sandee Kastrul's photo
I believe that the definition of leadership is making opportunities for others. I am a leadership geek and find that the richest opportunities for all of our futures lie in education. I am a believer in reciprocity in education and that as educators we are both teacher and student. I believe that the world can be a classroom if we open ourselves to the notion that application, concatenation and liberation start with listening. Schedule Sandee to Speak

About i.c.stars

i.c.stars is a non-profit organization in Chicago for adults with a high school diploma or GED. Using project-based learning and full immersion teaching, i.c.stars provides an opportunity for change-driven, future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. To learn more go to www.icstars.org

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
90%
Industry retention rate:
81%
College attendance rate:
55%
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
72%
Average 12-month earnings before program:
$10,790
Average 12-month earnings after program:
$44,010