When I was a VISIONS participant in 1994 I taught math and reading to Crow children in Lodge Grass, Montana. I felt great about my experience and still talk about it today. Sometimes I wonder, though… What happened to the children? Could they still use my help? How could I continue to be of assistance?

No doubt many VISIONS alumni have even more to teach now as adults, but just can’t spend another summer in Montana. Can we still positively impact children’s education and futures by sharing what we’ve learned? I am now an investment banker in San Francisco and wouldn’t have the first clue how to contact the boy I tutored. I’d love to be able to send him an email. How can we introduce children like him to the powerful tools offered by modern technology? I think one answer lies in the Internet. In my career, I rely heavily on the Internet for information and communication. I would be greatly limited without it. I can’t help but think that children growing up without Internet access are at a critical educational and information disadvantage.

The Internet should be used as an educational equalizer. In an initiative to make Internet access, education, and ongoing technical support available in schools where it currently does not exist, I have established a nonprofit called Developing Minds. With the help of strong corporate partnerships already in place, Developing Minds will provide a complete solution for Internet education. We are in the process of creating an information resources curriculum to be taught in schools via the Internet.

This summer we beta test our solution in the Daly City school system on the outskirts of San Francisco. These schools lack computers, Internet access and teachers who can show students how to use this technology. Developing Minds is providing a classroom full of new computers and a T-1 Internet connection. We will educate teachers how to best convey to their students the educational potential of the Internet, via the Internet and a local volunteer pool, using Developing Minds educational software.

After we physically leave the classroom, our schools will have free access to Internet lesson plans and educational activities. No matter how much other costs rise, single parenting increases, or technology progresses, our solution enables the development of young minds so that no one is left behind. We can and will improve future life through emerging technology.

The VISIONS community, no matter where we live now, can volunteer year round through Developing Minds. We are seeking volunteers who would like to start chapters of Developing Minds in their own hometowns. By late summer our teaching materials will be compiled and the system will be in place.

Josh Cohen


VISIONS in The New York Times