Friday, December 7, 2012

Remembering Elizabeth Edwards: In Her Own Words

Today we remember the passing of Elizabeth Edwards with great sadness, and with even greater purpose.  Just before she passed, Elizabeth shared the words below on Facebook.  We hold them in our hearts still today as we continue her work, her hope that we can make a difference, and her mission to  make the most of our days on Earth by changing the lives of others for the better. We miss you, Elizabeth.

You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel towards everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.

-- Elizabeth Edwards, December 2010

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creating Public Servants in Elizabeth's Image

Elizabeth Edwards dedicated her life to public service.  After working in law for twenty years, Elizabeth then focused on education and student success, running the Wade Edwards Learning Lab and serving as a substitute teacher.  Later on in her life she became a champion of equal access health care reform.  Elizabeth’s commitment to serving the public good was spectacular, and we at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation hope to carry on this legacy and tradition in her honor.

Nowadays, a young person so passionate about public service is somewhat rare—there are many easier, self-serving or glamorous paths that attract the attention of our youth.  But those paths are significantly less enriching and empowering, for both the public servant and those whom they serve.  For this reason, one of the tenants of the Elizabeth Fellows Program is developing a commitment to public service in our students. 

In strong communities, young people find many tools that can help them thrive, including important supports and pathways to success.  Through the Elizabeth Fellows Program, we expect students to give back, to both empower the student and to strengthen the community from which they came.  By reinvesting student energy and passion into their communities, the Fellows program builds bridges between successful individuals and their roots.

We do this through the annual Elizabeth Fellows Service Project.  As a team, Fellows will identify an issue they would like to address within their community or a change they envision will improve their community. They will work together during the spring semester to design and implement a solution, in furtherance of Gandhi’s wise advise: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The structure of this project is based on the idea that once students begin to analyze their community’s strengths and weaknesses and then affect positive change, they will be constantly looking for opportunities to help and improve society.  We hope that once graduating from the Elizabeth Fellows Program, our students will make this a part of their life’s commitment, in the same way that it was part of Elizabeth’s. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Warming Up This Summer at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation

This summer has been a time of great excitement and growth here at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation as we prepare to welcome our first class of Elizabeth Fellows in the Fall! Many different facets of the Elizabeth Fellows program are coming together quickly, so we wanted to keep you up-to-date as the first year of our program kicks off. 

The beginning of the academic year will mark the start of the pilot Elizabeth Fellows program at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.  We’ve been working with various educators at Broughton, who have each provided us a lot of support by recommending students who may be right for our program.  We are looking for bright students facing challenges who, with the right support, will reach their full academic potential, set and meet important personal goals, and mature into empowered leaders in their communities.

With the application packets now finalized, nominated students will receive them and choose to apply as part of a thorough process to be selected as an Elizabeth Fellow.  Applicants will be chosen based on a range of variables, including their responses to short and long essay questions as well as recommendations.  Once chosen, the students will start the program in early Fall and begin their exciting journey as Elizabeth Fellows.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Summer Months: Time for Learning Outside the Classroom

Summer is in full swing and students all across the country are trying their hand at various pursuits of their choosing.  It’s the time of year when high school and college students engage in activities to enrich their academic learning and pursue their interests. Summer experiences provide key opportunities to shape and identify one’s passions and interests for the future, while building their résumé.  

A meaningful summer experience can encompass many different activities.  A future writer can try interning for a newspaper to determine if he should pursue journalism as a career.  A skilled math student may take a summer introductory class to figure out if she wants to apply to college as an engineering major.

Though such academic pursuits are obviously important shaping experiences, kids can equally benefit from non-academic endeavors as well.  Student athletes on the brink of a college scholarship may attend sports camps to streamline their abilities and students interested in working abroad may immerse themselves in another country’s language and culture.  The important aspect of a summer experience the pursuit itself—it is anything that will help students move towards their goals and make a productive use of the long summer months.

The problem is that not all students can afford to spend the summer venturing out on their own.  Important responsibilities, such as making money for the school year or caring for family, often prevent ambitious students from pursuing their interests.  Because of restrictions outside of their control, students miss out on opportunities that their peers get to experience. 

For this reason, one component of the Elizabeth Fellows programs involves helping our students find a way to do something productive and enriching between their junior and senior years in high school.  Mentors will help the fellows decide what they would like to explore and make connections with summer opportunities that fit with the student’s obligations.  We want to empower students through summer opportunities that they may otherwise not be able to discover, because everyone deserves the chance to push themselves and discover who they are. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Role of Advocacy in Education

Advocacy is often thought of as a tool used by social innovators to attract attention to their cause.  Agents of change rely on advocacy techniques to make a difference, and advocating is most often associated with a public service or a cause. However, advocacy has a real role in the daily life of all students, and indeed, all people.
To advocate, or “to plead in favor of” according to Miriam Webster Dictionary, is necessary for any person to succeed in their academic, professional or personal endeavors.  To be an advocate requires many characteristics, including a thorough understanding of a cause or goal, a passion to succeed at that goal, and effective writing and verbal communication skills to benefit the promotion of the goal.

If you think about these characteristics outside of the world of social change, they resemble a set of tools necessary to succeed in everyday life.  Whether applying to college, interviewing for a job or presenting a proposal to their boss, people must advocate for themselves or their ideas.  Understanding, communication skills, and passion to achieve are all vital to success in every walk of life. 

To train students as advocates means giving them the ability and the drive to fight for something they believe in, whether that be their own education or a change within their community.  It means empowering students to take initiative and determine their own futures.

Those who advocate are those who lead. So in order to train tomorrow’s leaders, we must give them the tools to get there. Because before they lead others, they must first learn to advocate for themselves.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation Takes a Stand Against Bullying

Recently, people all across the country have joined together to protect the nation’s youth and put an end to the bullying epidemic.  Bullying can make a huge difference in a student’s success in school.  The victim of a bully may lose self-confidence, leading to not only lowered academic expectations, but also inhibited personal growth. 

At the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, we aim to support struggling students and empower them to take a stand against whatever obstacles they may face.  We want to unlock student potential and give them the resources they need to shine.  A huge part of that requires students to feel comfortable and confident among their peers. 

In a study by the Department of Justice last December found here, research recommends mentoring programs and community service opportunities to support students who struggle with bullying.  The EEF has already built these facets into the Elizabeth Fellows program. 

To tackle problems students may be facing, Fellows will be matched with mentors at local colleges who have tackled these problems already.  By building this relationship, we hope to give students a safe space for growth that is required to overcome bullying and other personal obstacles.  Our community service projects are developed and implemented by the Fellows, empowering them to make a positive change within their community and giving them confidence that they can make a difference.  We want to show our support for youth in the anti-bully movement and empower students to become leaders in their communities. 

If you or someone you know would make a great mentor and attends college in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area, follow this link for more details:

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation Welcomes Intern Katie Davey to the Team

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation welcomes Katie Davey to the team.  Originally from Yonkers, New York, she is a senior at Georgetown University.  During the school year Katie supports Washington DC’s students through her role as a program coordinator for DC Reads, which is a tutoring, mentoring and advocacy organization based out of Georgetown.

Excited to begin working with the Foundation, Katie said,

“I believe that education is more than just academics.  The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation ‘s focus on mentorship, advocacy and public service capture the fundamentals of leadership, and I am so happy to be a part of such a great mission”.

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation is pleased to have Katie's help as we continue our mission of educating, enriching and empowering youths.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Following in Elizabeth's Footsteps by Advocating for the ACA

Cate Edwards, President of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, follows in her mother's footsteps and calls upon Elizabeth words in supporting the Affordable Care Act.  Her op-ed in Poltico advocates the ACA as being an unprecedented step forward for women's health. 

Note: this article reflects the views of Cate Edwards, not the views of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, which remains a nonpartisan nonprofit organization.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Esteemed Consultant Christina Reynolds Joins the Board of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation is proud to announce the addition of Christina Reynolds, beloved friend of Elizabeth Edwards and renowned political consultant, to its Board.  Excited to be part of the team, Reynolds comments:

"To know Elizabeth was to have a new member of the family—one who offered wit and wisdom, advice, opinions and support freely. While we miss her every day, her legacy lives on through the Foundation, which will offer that same support and strength to a new generation of students."

The Foundation is thrilled to welcome Christina to our team and our mission to create a positive, enduring legacy for our friend, Elizabeth Edwards. 

To learn more about Christina, who served on several presidential campaigns and is currently the Managing Director at The Glover Park Group, please visit 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Elizabeth Edwards Foundation Attends National Mentoring Summit in Washington, DC

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, through its President, Cate Edwards, participated in the 2012 National Mentoring Summit over the last two days in Washington, D.C.  We connected with other organizations working the mentoring field, learned about the latest research and best practices in mentoring, and heard inspiring stories about the impact mentors can have on the lives of young people.

We started the summit with moving speeches about the importance of mentoring programs like ours for changing the lives of "opportunity youth," young people whose futures have been dimmed by difficult life circumstances.  While opportunity youth harbor great potential to make a difference in the world,  they lack critical support and consistent care of an adult in their lives.  A mentor can fill that void, giving that young person the advice, trust, and self-confidence to succeed.

On Day One, we learned that only 20% of low-income youth are adequately prepared for college, but the chances of beating those odds dramatically increase when a mentor steps in.  We also heard the latest research for best practices in the field, reiterating that the quality and length of a mentoring relationship is critical to a program's effectiveness.  On Day Two, we received toolkits for helping opportunity youth envision & get to college and start to develop their own career goals.  We also learned a lot about community partnerships and use of technology to innovate mentor relationships. We left fully energized and empowered to make mentoring work for our Elizabeth Fellows.

We would like to thank the hosts of the Summit for putting on a wonderful event, filled with valuable information and inspiring passion for this work: MENTOR National Mentoring Partnership, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Corporation for National & Community Service, Harvard School of Public Health, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention & United Way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Elizabeth Edwards Foundation & Cate Edwards in Above the Law

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation and its President, Cate Edwards, were recently mentioned in the popular legal blog, Above the Law:
The Case:
- Cate Edwards is a daughter of former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and [Elizabeth Edwards].  A graduate of Harvard Law School, she was at one time an associate at plaintiffs’ firm Sanford Wittels & Heisler and is now president of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation.
- Trevor, who “was raised in a Republican family,” is a surgical fellow at Georgetown University Hospital. He and Cate met in 2002 when they were both undergraduates at Princeton. They broke up for two years before reuniting in 2006.
- Cate penned a lovely essay on her mother not long after her death. What’s always struck us about Elizabeth Edwards’s story is that the greatest tragedy of her too-short life wasn’t John Kerry’s loss in the 2004 election; it wasn’t her two-faced husband’s tawdry, humiliating, illegitimate-child-producing affair; it wasn’t even dying of cancer before she could see her children grow up. It was, one suspects, the death of her teenage son in a car accident in 1996. Sounds like her daughter inherited her grit and graciousness. We hope Cate’s path through life is easier than her mother’s.