Jaylen Brown founded the Bridge program to transform education

Jaylen Brown turned 24 after leaving the NBA bubble. He immediately spent time with his grandfather, Willie Brown, who encouraged him to play with the Celtics in Orlando despite his cancer diagnosis. There, he refined his out-of-court plea by coming into contact with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Program. He had spoken out on social justice, the American political system and police brutality early in his career, but to bring about lasting change, he focused on education.

Given his own experience — almost failing a class on different standards in different Georgia school districts — he had a lot to say about issues with school and how that connects to economic disparity and heightens racism. Brown joined the Media Lab at MIT and spoke at Harvard, and, given the diversity of minds in education, Boston has become .

Brown partnered with various institutions to launch the Bridge program last year and shared the results at TEDxBoston in Back Bay this month. The initiative has given students leadership and tools to apply science, technology, engineering, arts and math. He is linked to his efforts through his clothing line and his 7UICE foundation, which sell expensive clothes and reallocate that money to those who don’t have it. The MIT Media Lab and its biotechnology community group have also joined the project.

“These students are learning about cutting-edge topics that are being talked about right now,” he said. “But they also learn to solve problems through community engagement. They learn to organize themselves and things like that, which is a value.

Brown spent from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. throughout his summer doing the Bridge program with the students, who received instruction from professors at the MIT Media Lab, as well as NASA and Harvard Law School. Other mentors came from various universities in Massachusetts, the field of robotics and health technologies, and social services.

No inequality, he said, occurs more aggressively than through the education system. It fails children – and drives some into the prison-industrial complex. In another interview, Brown discussed the social stratification across honor grades and lower grades where teachers simply fight to maintain control alongside violence, bullying and other extenuating circumstances maintained. throughout this cycle.

Brown graduated from the Bridge program impressed with the attendance, energy and projects brought in by the students, ranging in grades 8 through 12. The youngest group, made up of 13-year-olds, researched how to improve gender and racial equality among astronauts and in space science. They have built a program to recruit from disadvantaged communities in these areas.

Other students explored improving access to the healthcare system for immigrants in Boston through an app. A “sustainable drip” sought eco-friendly clothing, while another group aimed to increase internet access in all communities. Projects have also addressed environmental racism, food supply, climatic factors in health, and tackling pollution in Boston’s Charles River through bioremediation, one of Brown’s favorites among the groups.

“Ginkgo was also another incredible partner and resource for the program,” he said. “This is a laboratory located in Boston. I think they were really drawn to this project, and the students wanted to use microbes, bacteria, and DNA to sort of clean up the Charles River. And it was young people aged 15, 16 and 17 who had these ideas. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was 15, I didn’t think about that.

Instead, Brown remembers arriving at Wheeler High School to a teacher who didn’t want to take the extra time he needed before school to get extra math help. He was already unsure why he needed it after being considered advanced at his old school, but inconsistent standards between districts left him behind in Wheeler. The teacher didn’t accept his explanation, that he hadn’t learned what he needed in his previous school to succeed in this one.

“You’re going to fail,” he remembered the professor telling him. Brown previously tweeted about another teacher telling him they would be looking for him at Cobb County Jail in five years.

“I remember how that moment made me feel. One, because it was out of my control. I was from a different district and had a different schedule. So I couldn’t have learning about last year’s implementation, which was based on this year. She said she didn’t really care. That moment kind of compartmentalized all my feelings and emotions, which made me raised awareness of some of the limitations of our education system, which led me to help design and create the Bridge program and ultimately lead to activism.

Brown simply needed more time to pass the course, eventually succeeding thanks to the 6 a.m. sessions with the professor. With the Bridge program, he tries to provide that time, along with opportunities and resources, that will allow students to apply rather than imagine their ideas. He hopes involvement will lead to solutions to societal problems by enabling people who normally cannot enter impactful fields to do so.

Brown has been talking for years about the fact that education weeds out winners and losers early in life. It puts a ceiling on social mobility and establishes a capitalist battle very early on. He used his own basketball skills to work around the limitations of the school systems he attended in Georgia before attending the University of California, Berkeley on a scholarship, struggling to complete a course during his junior year. semester which was part of a master’s degree course in Cultural Studies of Sport in Education.

He went on to point out the wealth disparities that exist in Massachusetts despite the state’s overall ranking of No. 1 in public education. Resource allocation, he showed, follows racial lines and thus the Bridge program becomes necessary to connect people of color to the assets that enable successful education.

brown said QG in 2020, the path you are placed on for your education remains essentially the same throughout your life. This is why education has become his passion. He sees it as an investment in the future of individuals and society. Many of these insights go back to reading and the rooms he walked into Cal, realizing that forces beyond his control almost sent him into another room. He is committed to continuing these lessons and transforming education in America.

“I ended up passing the class,” Brown said of that math class at Wheeler. “But not with my own help. My mother even threatened to file a lawsuit against the district. The teacher thought I was just another athlete trying to pass one. In reality, I didn’t learn what I needed to learn to pass the course. They thought I was lying, so they decided to let me fail…but luckily by the grace of God, I have a wonderful mother, who wasn’t going to let my social mobility be sacrificed to the education system. But for many people of color and people from disadvantaged communities, they may not have the same luxury.

Ryan H. Bowman