Every Year, Variety magazine spotlights five leading women who are using their platform to influence and shed light on important causes. This year Gayle King was one of the five honorees, the rest include Jessica Chastain, Chelsea Clinton, Blake Lively, Audra McDonald, and Shari Redstone.
King is being recognized for her work with SEO Scholars, a flagship that enrolls 1,500 students into a rigorous academic program. Through SEO Scholars high schoolers are able to receive instruction every Saturday and for the month of July from 9th grade all the way through graduation. The program is led by 80 instructors that break down the curriculum, taught in the Socratic method with an emphasis on critical reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, and math!
Whew! Sounds like tutorials on steroids.
King was specifically drawn to this organization because of her love for education. Gayle tells Variety about her childhood, stating that she grew up in a household where it was never a question whether she was going to college. She says she could not wait to attend the University of Maryland, where she double-majored in psychology and sociology. She was ecstatic to find out who her roommates were going to be, what classes she was going to take, and the whole nine when it comes to attending college.
King was lucky to have college be a part of the conversation in her home because, for most children raised in a low economic situation, these conversations do not happen.
“A lot of people know you have to do well on your SATs or ACTs or your parents are getting you a tutor. What if you grow up in a home where nobody does any of that?” – Gayle King via Variety Magazine
Through the SEO Scholars program, kids have a space to excel academically. The SEO Scholars program exposes children to levels of academia that they would not have reached on their own based on their upbringing and community. 100% of the kids who go through the program are accepted into a four-year college.
“Eighty-five percent will be the first in their family to earn a college degree. We see that as a way of breaking the cycle of poverty.” – William Goodloe (President and CEO of SEO)
King took the kids on a tour of her neck of the woods aka the set of “CBS This Morning”. She also had the honor of emceeing and awards dinner for SEO Scholars that raised over $4.0 million.
“They’re teaching these kids at a very early age to get ready. If you get kids early, you get kids who are really committed.” – Gayle King