It starts with a vision. Quincy Kofi Swatson founded The Door Campaign in 2013 with the mission “to show inner-city youth that they can be the change they want to see in the world.” The organization continues to grow and expand on aquaponic projects that teach youth about ecology, biology, and sustainability.
– What is a trend of note regarding public education and sustainability that gives you great optimism in your work?
Youth today are open-minded and have easy access to information. Combining youthful inquisitiveness to data, access to ideas, and best practices can create different ways of thinking and viewing the world. We are educating a whole new generation of students that understand the complexities of how things work and importantly see how issues intersect. This understanding of cause and effect allow students to possess a broader view of issues and the world around them. Increasingly, our kids today ask questions and then find answers. In one of my classes a student asked, “where does the food we eat come from?” After students learned how many acres in the Amazon were cleared for fast food restaurants to graze their cattle, that prompted the students to modify their behavior—fewer burgers. They are not just passive observers, they want and are willing to be the change they seek in the world by making commitments and that is what keeps me most optimistic!
– Please give an example of a sustainable business practice that The Door Campaign employs that may be relevant to many other organizations or businesses.
A very important sustainable business practice of The Door Campaign is how we hire—we specifically employ students who have gone through our high school program in as many positions as possible. Our students are a sustainable mechanism; we invest in them and reap the benefit of that investment when we put them to work on our mission. This will create a full continuous cycle of benefit to students, us, and the community. Since much of the schools we work in are predominantly minority students, this adds an extra level of social impact. Data shows that social equity is among our region’s biggest areas for improvement related to employment, wages, and education attainment. In this way, at The Door Campaign, our business model is contributing to closing the gap to help realize a thriving economy where equity in education and employment are one.