I met Furahi about six years ago at a women’s retreat that I attend every year in Connecticut. From the day she stepped into our Spiritual Babes group, Furahi has brought so much energy, fun and passion to our weekends in the country. When I am around her, I feel a bit anemic.

One thing I know about Furahi is that she is going to make a positive change in our world. And she has already started with The Fitting RoomTM.

Please take a read and see how Furahi and The Fitting RoomTM plan to change the lives of our teens and even if you don’t have a teen, read on and discover how we can give all the kids out there a real chance to make it in the world today.

Furahi Achebe

Hello, everyone, I am Furahi Achebe. Elizabeth has allowed me to take over her blog to discuss a project that is dear to my heart and vital to the future of America in an intensely competitive global economy. It addresses a thorny, persistent problem that is keeping people who truly care about our most precious resource—our children—awake at night.

America has a problem, Urban America has a crisis, and both result in a tremendous loss of human potential.  Each year more than 1.2 million students in the USA drop out of high school.1 According to the US Labor Department, by 2016, 90% of the fastest growing and best paying jobs will require some post-secondary education.  What happens to those who have not even completed their secondary education?  Current data paints a dismal portrait of the life chances of a dropout compared to a high school graduate:

  • They will be 72% more likely to be unemployed at any given time.2
  • When employed, they will earn $9000 less per year.3
  • They will be six times more likely to go to jail.4
  • 23% more likely to die prematurely.5

Minorities, especially those in urban areas are over-represented among these dropouts.  While white students have a graduation rate of 77%, that of blacks is 54%; and for Latinos 56%.1 According to Michelle Alexander of the Kirwan Institute, an African American male student in New York City has an approximately 74 percent chance of dropping out.

My organization; The Fitting Room Educational Media Corporation is working toward our vision of the future in which every child, regardless of race, or zip code, graduates from high school.   We believe that many students are falling through the cracks because they never made the connection between education and the quality of their future.  They simply haven’t been shown the great possibilities they are eliminating when they drop out.

Our mission is to take kids on a virtual career day once a week from the time they are in 7th grade until they graduate, so that they can see the myriad careers that they can access through education. They will ‘travel’ with hip young hosts to find out why a particular professional loves his or her job, learn about the required education and the tasks associated with the job.  Through this series, a West Virginia student studying biology can ‘shadow’ a chiropractor from Connecticut who has built a career using biology.  A student from the projects in Detroit could ‘meet’ a New York investment banker who looks just like her.

The series is called The Fitting RoomTM. Our slogan is “Try on a Possibility!”  Each episode is two minutes long and designed to be shown in homeroom or study halls.   We have a silent version which can loop in cafeterias, guidance offices libraries or any place where people congregate.  In the series we endeavor to show as many role models as possible from underrepresented groups to help girls and minorities broaden their view of potential careers.

It is important that we show our young women a broader set of options because even in 2011, females are still choosing professions that pay less.  This quote was taken from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s website: “Women represent half of our nation’s workforce yet are too often relegated to the lowest compensated sectors of paid work. More than half of all working women are employed in 5 percent of occupational categories, most of which are among the lowest paid, except for teaching and nursing. Fields that employ the fewest women actually pay 20 to 30 percent more than predominantly female fields. For example, women make up 73.7 percent of cashiers, whose hourly wage averages $9.52, but only 1.5 percent of electricians, who average $24.91 per hour.”

I ask parents, relatives and friends of teens to let them know the website exists to help them find their passion and they are welcome to visit to search for a career goal any time day or night.

The Fitting RoomTM videos or silent version are FREE for all at the website. www.thefittingroom.tv

If there is a teen that you care about and want to guarantee that they are aware of the wide variety of possibilities for their future then, purchase an Inbox Subscription for them.  Each week September through June, a new career video (more exactly an HTML page containing the embedded video) will be emailed to them so that they never miss out on a chance to find their passion.  Inbox Subscriptions are $39.  They can be purchased at the website.

I believe that when teens find a career that they are passionate about, they will strive to get the education it requires.  Benchmark testing in schools has shown these videos to be highly effective in getting kids to consider new possibilities for their future career.  In one study, with kids that were shown 5 episodes of The Fitting RoomTM, 70% of the students wrote that they could see themselves in one of the professions shown in the video.  I believe that the expectation of a great job through education, is the most powerful incentive to stay in school, though this web show I expect to match kids from all over the country with career goals.

Please post this on your Facebook and Twitter pages. If you are interested in how you can help advance this project, email me at [email protected]

I thank you for hearing me out!  Furahi Achebe

1)      Education Weekly, Vol 29 Issue 34, pgs 22-23, 30

2)      http://www.ncset.org/publications/essentialtools/dropout/handout1.asp

3)      http://www.clms.neu.edu/publication/documents/The_Consequences_of_Dropping_Out_of_High_School.pdf

4)      http://cdc.gov/NCHS/data/erratas/nvsr49_08p10.pdf and http://cdc.gov/NCHS/data/erratas/nvsr49_08p11.pdf