Story by Kacie Frederick. Photos by Jan Osborn.
On average, a child receives 38 minutes of instruction on college and career advice–mere minutes that will affect the trajectory of their lives forever. Education Opens Doors, a turnkey program, offers 1200 minutes to prepare students to make critical life decisions, helping them reach their fullest potential. As Education Opens Doors celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the nonprofit has recently announced its new CEO, Roscoe Compton-Kelly.
Compton-Kelly previously served Education Opens Doors as the Senior Director of External Affairs and led the Advancement, Partnerships, and Advocacy teams. He also is a singing member of the Turtle Creek Chorale and serves on the Board of Directors of Dallas Hope Charities. But after 20 years of working for Scholastic Books, Compton-Kelly decided to pursue a career in the nonprofit industry, finding a fit for his passions with Education Opens Doors.
“I told myself that if I were ever to leave Scholastic, it would be to go into nonprofit work,” said Compton-Kelly. “I found the job for our Senior Director of External Affairs with Education Opens Doors, and I thought, ‘This is weird,’ because all my experience, education, and love for nonprofits were wrapped into one role. But, I’m a true believer that the universe sets you on a path for a reason. Little did I know that this path for me was to join this amazing organization and, just nine months later, lead Education Opens Doors. I could not be more thrilled and honored to do the work that I’m doing. I would say this has all come full circle for me.”
To Compton-Kelly, Education Opens Doors is all about being able to activate all students to understand what their limitless potential is. Education Opens Doors strives for every kid to walk away from their program, understanding what it means to make intentional choices and what those choices will mean moving forward in their lives and careers. Education Opens Doors’ target audience for their curriculum is middle-grade-aged students in seventh or eighth grade. Education Opens Doors is pursuing this age group because when a student gets to eighth grade, they are ultimately trying to understand the choices they need to make for high school and beyond. For Education Opens Doors, this time in a student’s life is critical.
Now offered in a digital or workbook format, Education Opens Doors offers over 1200 minutes of content for kids to understand their college and career options. Education Opens Doors intends for its students to realize what Compton-Kelly described as “soft skills.” Essentially, the students are expected to understand their character strengths after completing the program, then, through assessing their character strengths, pick a career path that fits best for them. The curriculum includes many crucial lessons from study skills training, simple budgeting lessons to understanding the college application process. It also goes over financial aid, extracurriculars, and resume-building. Overall, Education Opens Doors grants kids the agency to be able to think for themselves and understand what their options are.
“When I was in high school, I thought I was going to go pre-med,” said Compton-Kelly. “I remember talking to my college counselor, and my counselor just gave me the seal of approval. There was no ‘Wait, let’s think about that choice. How many years of college is it going to take you? What is the medical school you’re going to have to go to? What kind of debt are you going to accumulate in that process?’ And so, a lot of those questions were never answered for me, but even still, my heart wasn’t in it. So going into college, I needed to take years of chemistry and biology, and what I discovered in the process was, ‘Oh, this may not be the fit for me.’ And I remember being at a real sense of loss of what I wanted to do in my life.”
Compton-Kelly’s personal experience is just one of many students realizing later in their college or career experiences that the path they started on is not the right fit for them. This is what Education Opens Doors specializes in: Helping students discover the best path for themselves early. Many college counselors in high schools oversee over 500 students at a given time. With these numbers, students receive very little one-on-one time. Therefore, Education Opens Doors offers a solution to parents, teachers, and students.
Education Opens Doors work directly with school districts, such as the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), and even talk to the school districts about their program. Ultimately, Education Opens Doors hope the school districts repurchase their curriculum for their seventh graders. Education Opens Doors’ advancement teams work with various foundations and individual donors to help support their efforts in building their curriculum program, which they produce annually and expand into other school districts.
“In my high school yearbook, I wrote that I wanted to do something where I was doing good in the world,” said Compton-Kelly. “At the end of the day, I want to feel like I’ve left a mark on the world of good. I feel like all the work I’m doing now and being at the helm of Education Opens Doors, working with teachers, educators, and students to help them understand their pathways. And that really [the students] can set their mind to anything they want to do. That is the good work I’ve always wanted to do. And I’m doing it.”
Education Opens Doors is a nonprofit turnkey program dedicated to helping students make the critical life decisions that best fit their career paths. Education Opens Doors is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, making your donation tax-deductible. Donations can be made online at https://educationopensdoors.org/join-us/#clickpledge.