From the President
During my nine years at the helm of EDC, I have had many opportunities to see the effects of EDC’s work, not only in the great fields of education, health, and economic development, but also on the lives of individuals. And while an ever-growing body of assessments and data speak to the quality and efficacy of EDC’s service to our funders, partners, and beneficiaries around the world, it is my encounters with those individuals that have made the most lasting impressions on me.
"As each young person crossed the stage to receive a diploma, I felt as if they were being handed a passport to a better life."
A recent visit to Guyana reminded me of the lives we change. Guyana is home to EDC’s USAID-funded Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment project, which works with at-risk youth ages 15 to 24, many of whom have already been incarcerated. The SKYE project, as it is known, helps them develop the personal, financial, and basic education skills they need for employment and independence.
During my visit, I was privileged to participate in a SKYE graduation ceremony. I have attended many commencements during my predominantly academic career, but this one, which took place on a hot day in a Guyanese reformatory, was perhaps the most memorable. The main speaker, an EDC project leader and former head of Guyana’s prison system, made inspiringly clear the options facing the graduates—a life of respect, work, and family or a return to the penal system. As each young person crossed the stage to receive a diploma, I felt as if they were being handed a passport to a better life.
When writing the 1967 President’s Report, Arthur Singer, Jr., recognized EDC's particular mission. “EDC is preeminently fitted to be a center of reform,” he wrote. “Indeed, if EDC should fail to provide this center, it is far from certain that any other group could or would provide it.”
A half-century later, EDC continues to be an essential partner in promoting education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. Our accomplishments were many in 2014, for example:
- EDC launched PTSD Coach Online, a tool that helps military personnel and veterans manage the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder anywhere, anytime. In an era when communities across the country struggle with the public health crisis posed by trauma and substance abuse, EDC’s technical assistance teams provided essential research and expertise.
- EDC also reaffirmed its place as a leader in science and mathematics instruction. This year, we introduced EDC Earth Science, a new high school curriculum, as well as a collection of digital learning games. A series of new research grants will also enable EDC to contribute to the evidence base about what works in the classroom.
- EDC strengthened institutions, built expertise, and expanded individual opportunity overseas and across borders, often through workforce development projects like SKYE. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a year-long study showed that EDC’s work in literacy—that first step toward self-determination and a brighter future—is achieving outstanding results.
EDC enters 2015 a stronger, more capable organization than it was a year ago. The twin objectives of significance and sustainability continue to drive our strategy. We have enhanced our reputation for evidence-based research, intelligence, integrity, collaboration, and social impact even amid the challenges facing our nonprofit development sector.
Since its founding, EDC has been a community of innovation and impact, of authentic concern and care for those at the margins of education, health, and economic opportunity. It is a much larger organization now than it was in Arthur Singer’s day, or at its inception in the 1950s, but the core commitment to intellectual curiosity, progress, and social justice continues to distinguish EDC’s people and its mission, which is important for all our beneficiaries, no matter where they make their home.
Luther S. Luedtke
President and Chief Executive Officer
Education Development Center, Inc.