The SIP: Season 2, Episode 6 Transcript

Ericka Jones (2011), Joe English (2013), and Kevin Shen (2000)

Learn more about The SIP and its sixth episode of the second season, Cultivating Empathy and Delivering Hope for LGBTQ Students with Joe English (2013), here.

Intro music

Carolyn Norton:

Does anyone know how I unhide myself?

Kevin Shen:

No, you’re here. You’re still on. You’re on video.

Carolyn Norton:

Can you see me?

Kevin Shen:

Yeah.

Joe English:

Yeah.

Carolyn Norton:

Could you see me the whole time?

Kevin Shen:

For most of it, yeah.

Carolyn Norton:

Oh, okay!

Transitional music

Ericka Jones:

Hi, Coke Scholar family, and friends. Welcome to season two of the SIP. The podcast that shares a taste of the Coke Scholars around the world who are igniting positive change. My name is Erica Jones and I’m a proud 2011 Coca-Cola Scholar originally from Los Angeles. And now finishing up my final year of ministry school in Northern California. I’m an actor, a poet, a storyteller, but most importantly, a lover of people. For those of you who are listening and may not be a Coca-Cola Scholar, welcome, we are glad to have you. To give you a little background, the Coca-Cola Scholars foundation is the largest achievement-based and corporate sponsored Scholarship program in the country. Each year, it awards $20,000 to 150 high school students across the country who share a unique passion for service and leadership. It’s a competitive program to get into, but once you’re Coke Scholar, the benefits go far beyond the money for college. You become a part of this bigger family for life. If you want to learn more, you can visit their website at Coca-ColaScholarsfoundation.org.

Happy 2021. Wow, what a year? Both tumultuous kind of frustrating, but I’m grateful for the time that it offered. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to engineer wildly creative solutions to all of these global issues. Welcome back to the SIP for our last episode of season two. I’d be remiss if I said that I wasn’t a little bit sad. Maybe a lot of it’s sad.

In today’s episode, 2000 Scholar, Kevin Shen will be talking with 2013 Scholar, Joe English, the founder, and executive director of Hope in a Box, a nonprofit that helps educators create inclusive classrooms for LGBTQ students.

Originally from Orange County, California, Kevin Shen is an Asian-American actor based in London and Los Angeles. Kevin studied computer systems engineering and sociology at Sanford university and received his MBA from the Wharton School at the university of Pennsylvania. Kevin also worked in the corporate world before transitioning into an acting career. He can most recently be seen as King Tai in the latest installment of Netflix, super popular, A Christmas Prince film series, and works regularly in film, television and theater. Kevin produced and starred in the European premiere of David Henry Hwang’s, Pulitzer prize finalist play Yellow Face, at the national theater in London. And he was also in the first, all East Asian production at the Royal Shakespeare company. He strives to increase the visibility and positive representation of Asian-Americans and British East Asians in the entertainment industry.

Let’s meet Joe. Joe English is the founder of Hope in a Box. A national nonprofit that helps educators create safe, welcoming, and inclusive classrooms for LGBTQ students. The organization provides educators with curated boxes of books with LGBTQ characters, detailed curriculum for these books and training and mentorship on how to build an inclusive classroom. In 18 months, Hope in a Box has grown from a small pilot into a national program, supporting hundreds of schools in all 50 States. Prior to Hope in a Box, Joe worked for generation.org. The world’s largest education to employment NGO and for McKinsey & Company where he focused on public education and economic development. Joe was named Forbes 30 under 30 in 2019 and is a recipient of the Jefferson award for public service.

Now let’s hear Kevin and Joe.

Transitional music

Kevin Shen:

Cool, Joe English. Nice to meet you. I’m really excited to talk to you today. I’ve been reading about Hope in a Box and kind of your journey or a little bit about your background. But why don’t you… Let’s just start off by where are you right now? And kind of what’s your year been like?

Joe English:

The foundational questions here, I love it. Yeah. So, I’m based in Brooklyn and I live in Flatbush with my partner. We have been in Brooklyn through the crazy wave that has been COVID and then recovery. And now COVID spike two. So, we’ve been kind of in the thick of things. But thankfully everyone, at least in my family has been healthy.

Kevin Shen:

How long have you been in New York and where did you start? Where did you come from?

Joe English:

Yeah, so I’ve been in New York for the last three and a half years. I started working at McKinsey right out of undergrad. I did most of my work in like the education and economic development practices there. So working a lot for state and local governments, NGOs, some private equity shops originally from way upstate. But New York has been my home post-college.

Kevin Shen:

Well, tell us a little bit about Hope in a Box and then tell us when you started it.

Joe English:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So we have a very simple vision, which is that every single student deserves to feel safe and welcome and included at school. Regardless of their gender identity, regardless of their sexual orientation, right? It should be that simple. And we really see literature as kind of the key like piece of that puzzle. Where in the hands of a caring teacher, books and stories can really open the hearts and minds of kids, right? They can cultivate empathy, they can fight against stereotypes.

So we provide something to public schools called Hope in a Box, which is three things. Now, the first is a curated set of books that have LGBTQ characters and authors. We have a box that is for middle school level and a box for high school level. The second is detailed curriculum for those books to make it as easy as possible for educators to actually use the books we send them. All the curriculum, it’s written by experienced English teachers. They’re tied to common core standards. And as of this fall, they’re adapted for both in-person and virtual learning.

Kevin Shen:

Oh cool.

Joe English:

And the third part is, a whole set of professional development, peer to peer mentorship, coaching that help educators kind of answer all the tough questions that might come up in the classroom. As they work with these materials for the first time. It’s super important to us that we’re not just kind of dropping materials on the front door and leaving, but rather, developing a relationship with educators and providing them support over time.

So, that’s a little bit of what we do. I mean, the personal background, as I kind of mentioned, I grew up in a 1900 person, super small farm town, way, way, upstate New York. Basically, what I was growing up, I never saw or watched or read anything that I felt really spoke to me as gay a person. And it would have meant the absolute world to me to have had, but even one book with one gay character, like one unit in history class that talked about LGBTQ people. Just to understand like, hey, there are LGBTQ people in the world.

And this is something that I could be open about and be proud of rather than something to be like super scared of. But of course I didn’t have that. Ended up leaving high school feeling pretty confused and frustrated. And didn’t go back for about five years until I decided to actually have a good open conversation with some of my teachers about that and say, “Moving forward, what would it take to bring positive representation of queer people into schools like mine rural schools or religious school, et cetera?” That’s really where Hope in a Box was born.

Kevin Shen:

So you just went back there and you were like, “Hey teachers, this is what I want.” And then you just built it into this company.

Joe English:

I was very nervous. Like I said, I mean, I hadn’t gone back in about five years. But yeah, I mean, I thought if someone needs to have this conversation, right? And I think the revelation from that conversation was my teachers were very much on the same page.

Kevin Shen:

Sure.

Joe English:

They were enthusiastic and they said, “We see the need for this. We want to have our classrooms and curriculum be more diverse and inclusive, but we don’t really know where to start. So help us figure out what resources to use and how we can start kind of making our classrooms more diverse and inclusive and also make it very, very affordable.” I mean, my school had a lot of rural schools, chronically underfunded. So I think in order to get these resources and this training and this schools, it’s not just providing the sort of best practices, quote unquote, it’s also making those resources accessible to schools, again, especially in rural areas.

Kevin Shen:

Cool. So, how are you doing that? How are you getting these books? What books are you sending them? Oh, my God. I have so many questions about the books because I’m really curious. I’ve been spending my lockdown, basically reading so much more than I have in the past five years. So yeah. How are you making it so affordable to get all these books out to these schools and how many schools are you sending them to? I presume it started with your own schools, but then how much have you expanded?

Joe English:

Yeah.

Kevin Shen:

I’ve just asked you four questions at once.

Joe English:

No, I love it. We’ll take them each in turn. So in terms of the numbers, when we started, you’re right. Started with my school as the first one, which was nice and full circle. But we then kind of grew into a pilot program with each of those three components that I mentioned. Just very basic first draft. We sent that program about 30 schools around the country, got a lot of really good feedback from them on, hey, what’s working? What’s not working? What are your students like? What do you need more of? And with that feedback then we brought an updated program this past fall to about 300 schools in all 50 States. The goal ultimately is to reach all 7,000 rural school districts in the United States.

Kevin Shen:

Wow.

Joe English:

And to make LGBT inclusive education the norm rather than the exception in every single public school. So, that’s a little bit on the growth. To answer your other question on how we pulled the book list together and what are the books. So, you can go actually to hopeinabox.org/books, and we have our lists there. It’s been very exciting to pull this together. We’ve worked with about 50 professors and expert teachers around the country to pull together a list of 50 excellent LGBTQ inclusive books for middle and high school audiences. And that’s what you’ll find there. It is a living document. So I would say from 2018, which is when we did the first iteration of this to now, say probably 40 or 50% of the books are new. Based on feedback from students and teachers and new titles that have come out. So it’s living document.

Kevin Shen:

Are they all like books for curriculum, or they also just like, pop literature that could just be read and like fun books or kind of how does that span?

Joe English:

That is an excellent question. And I think that it depends a lot on the school and on their grade level and on what the teacher wants. Like what was the purpose of using a particular book, right? I will say that we do have, there’s a wide variety of books in there. So we’ve got books by Virginia Wolf and Oscar Wilde and Herman Melville right there to kind of quote unquote classics in part of the canon that very easily… A Picture of Dorian Gray. The Gray that can easily fit into what any traditional school would view as something aligned to common core standards or something that would be in their curriculum.

And then we of course have much more contemporary books. So Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender it’s a fairly recent one. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, which just came out this past year is on there. So there’s a wide range of text. And the purpose is to give educators again, a diverse set of materials they can use depending on what they need in their classrooms. So, if it’s giving one book to a particular student, you have that. Do you want something that you assigned in your class formally? There’s also that as well.

Kevin Shen:

Some of the books that you mentioned, those classics, the Melville and A Picture of Dorian Gray and Virginia Wolf, those are, do a lot of these schools now already have these books? Is it introducing these books or is it now kind of just bringing to the forefront kind of the LGBTQ aspects of it?

Joe English:

Yeah. And that’s a great point as both. And I think in the case of something like, let’s use A Picture of Dorian Gray as an example. That is more about the curriculum and the coaching, right? And using our program as a way to see those books in a new light, right? And to introduce themes that might otherwise be kind of swept under the rug or not even noticed, bring those to the fore. A Picture of Dorian Gray is interesting story actually. Oscar Wilde was much more open actually about some of the LGBTQ themes in that book in his first draft and the first manuscript and his editor actually stripped out a lot of that content.

There was a new version of this book that was republished in 2012, an annotated version that included some of those original passages, right? So it’s actually really interesting now in classrooms, you can teach the text as it was in the ’80s, ’90s, whatever, but add this new layer of thinking about not just what’s in the book and the LGBTQ themes, but also historically, how those themes had been treated and how that interacts with the author’s life, right? It’s all so interesting.

Kevin Shen:

Very fascinating. I feel like it’s not too far off from the present day in like Hollywood and kind of how scripts are edited and to fit the quote unquote tastes of the mainstream or whatnot. Whitewashing in my case, Asian characters, or I guess in A Picture of Dorian Gray, you can call it straight washing, I guess. Where you just get rid of these chunks of text, that’s, fascinating. And interesting how it still I think is very relevant. So we’re talking about rural schools and that’s kind of your main focus. But do you think about urban areas and potentially immigrant communities and people of color where maybe LGBTQ is still a bit more taboo or in their conservative households and stuff like that? Is that something that you think about or is there a case for getting these books to urban schools as well?

Joe English:

Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. Unfortunately, there is need everywhere. For the first round of getting this program out, though, we are focused on rural schools and title one schools. The reason for that is pretty simple. I think there are two, one, this schools historically have the least access to this particular type of literature or these perspectives. I’m just speaking from just from personal experience. Growing up in a rural community, it’s very, very rare to see experiences or identities outside of a very small bubble, right? They’re incredibly, generally much more homogenous than an inner city school say in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where I live and you walk on the street or into Prospect Park you see people from all walks of life.

Kevin Shen:

Sure.

Joe English:

And also again, title one schools that are historically very underfunded. They just don’t have the resources to invest in the materials themselves, even if they seem… So that’s our first step, but you’re absolutely right. The aspiration longer-term is to branch out.

Kevin Shen:

Sure. That makes sense. And with these schools where they do have traditionally less exposure, how do you follow up with them? Are you able to track kind of the success of or what kind of difference it’s making in these schools?

Joe English:

Yeah. And that’s super important to us. So we’re working with a professor from Auburn University. He’s a former high school teacher in rural Ohio, and we’re kind of doing two things, both qualitative and quantitative. So qualitatively, we do small focus groups with our educators monthly, to talk to them about, Hey, how are you using the program? What are you finding is resonating? What would be more helpful from us? That’s serves a couple of purposes. One, is that it gives them a nice sense of community, right? And they’re enjoying that for that part, but it also gives us really rich insight into, how is this working on the ground and how can we improve? That’s a qualitative side.

The quantitative side, we’re also using, we developed a survey that we send to folks prior to them receiving and joining our pilot program, understand their perception of their school climate, their own ability to support LGBTQ students, current resourcing. And we deploy that same survey every six months to see how that’s evolving over time.

Kevin Shen:

Okay.

Joe English:

We’re still in the early stage, but that’s kind of how we’re thinking about getting a handle on the impact into the outcomes.

Kevin Shen:

Cool. Clearly you want the representation of these LGBTQ characters to be positive, to let people have both their, I guess, LGBTQ kids see characters that are positive, but then also for others to learn about, to learn that empathy that allows them to, I guess, be more understanding of their peers. A lot of the books I’ve been reading have not had particularly positive depictions of LGBTQ characters, but they have been by LGBTQ authors. Is that something that you stay away from, or is that also fair game or, and they weren’t necessarily negative depictions of characters I guess, but they were quite dark subject matter. How do you balance that or is that an issue at all?

Joe English:

It’s super tricky. Particularly, again, in this realm of LGBTQ literature, where I think you’d find, I’m sure there’s some study on this, or some like, someone quantified this, but for the books prior to like the year 2000, I would say, I would guess like 90, 95% of those books have very tragic stories. Unrequited love, or family rejection or other just really painful, internalized homophobia, all kinds of very painful experiences with LGBTQ identity. So, to answer your question, we don’t avoid that. I mean, it’s just part of the history of LGBTQ literature. And I think there’s still a lot to be learned and thought about as you look at how these characters over time have dealt with their own identity and have viewed that identity within the context of their society. Just as one example, The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is like an iconic story of an individual who is questioning their own gender identity and their own sexuality.

It was published in the 1920s. And it’s really interesting to read, just to understand the conception of gender and sexuality back then. To see one of the earliest depictions in public, in mainstream literature of that day, that sort of dilemma and that identity. But it’s really painful to read, because the character themselves also has really deeply internalized homophobia and transphobia. So in order to teach books like that relative to something that’s like in 2020, and just purely positive, educators just need a little bit more, they tell us they need a little bit more training to figure out how to talk about that relationship between character and own identity and society in that identity. So long winded answer of saying it’s important to cover historically. And there’s a lot to be learned there, but it just takes a little bit of extra training and thinking about that [crosstalk 00:19:47]

Kevin Shen:

And that’s all you provide that as well. You’re there for the support to help them curriculum-wise. Very cool. And I want to talk a little bit more, obviously, I touched on the kind of urban areas, intersectionality wise, do you guys really make sure you cover kind of authors of color and characters of color as well?

Joe English:

Yeah. And I think there are two ways of thinking about that. One is the diversity of identity within the LGBTQ [inaudible 00:20:14] and then also with other identities, right? And so we’ve been very deliberate about making sure that we’re bringing in stories and authors who speak to the trans experience as well as the bisexual experience, which often are, I think ignored, right? In a lot of arts, whether that’s visual arts, performing arts, whatever. But then also, yeah, more than half of the books are on our list, feature characters of color or authors of color.

Kevin Shen:

Oh, very cool.

Joe English:

That’s really important. We also have books that are from authors who are speaking about the experience growing up, like on the African continent or in East Asia, South Asia as well. So national identity, religious identity, racial identity, those are all definitely elements there. We want to make sure there is something for everyone in this list, right?

Kevin Shen:

Amazing. Oh, I got to check out your list. You’ve really covered it all. That sounds great. So I want to ask you about kind of this like representation a little bit. So I, as an Asian-American actor, I’m always torn with seeing Asians on screen. Like, part of me is like, oh. I just want them to be like, just, they could be anybody they’re just happen to be Asian versus, but then also being, but then I also want their Asianist to be quite important to be informing their character and their background, showing people what their experience is like. And I imagine there are parallels with LGBTQ here, LGBTQ characters, and I think, what are your thoughts of representation? Are the characters in these books, do they just, are they just, did they just happen to be gay and they just, or is their LGBTQ identity germane to the plot or to the story somehow?

Joe English:

Yeah. It’s a balance, right? It just helped people feel about their own identities too, right? It’s like I want to just be seen as a regular person. Why can’t I just be treated like everyone else? But also my identity has been really important in shaping who I am, right? It’s a weird balance between those two things. And again, I don’t think anyone has a perfect answer on it. In our book list, we certainly have books like Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, where the whole premise is. It takes the boy meets girl hotline and it makes it going meets boy instead. And it just treats that as the norm, right? Actually, that is how society works and that’s super normal and that’s how it happens in school. So it takes that to be extreme.

Whereas other books, like, again, The Well of Loneliness, not to use examples too many times, but like the entire point of the book or a huge portion of the book is this person wrestling with his identity, like that is defining the plot and the character of the book. There’s a range of them. For every person, it’s different, right? For some people, their sexual orientation or gender identity is really, it takes up most of their own sort of conception of who they are, whereas for other people, it’s kind of secondary, right? And so it depends person to person. It’s just important to reflect that.

Kevin Shen:

Great. So I think just the answers that just needs to be way more representation of everything across the board, and then we’ll just have it all. We don’t even have to worry about it. Doesn’t even have to be a thought it’s just so much representation.

Joe English:

Giving people options. Yeah. I think it’s all about options. Yeah.

Kevin Shen:

So I wanted to talk a little bit more about kind of how your entrepreneurial journey came kind of with Hope in a Box. And kind of what your decision was to actually making that kind of jump into it becoming an actual full-time venture. How was that?

Joe English:

Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t well planned out. I will say. It kind of just started, I started this as a side of desk project after that first conversation with my teachers. And I mentioned probably like three or four months after starting at McKinsey. And from there, it was just doing kind of some research on the side, talking with folks, understanding how I could do something that would be additive rather than reinventing the wheel. And from there, it kind of just grew with more interest from teachers or pilot went really well. And I think momentum sort of organically started building to the point where this past February, we had hundreds of schools on our wait list, excited to join. I obviously care a lot about this. I was excited to spend more and more time on it. And thankfully, I do feel like I got a lot of good skills from McKinsey where I felt prepared and excited to be able to jump off and do something on my own.

And I felt ready to tackle something like that. So the timing was a little awkward with COVID. Jumped up in March to start doing this full-time without really well. And I think that, there are a lot of twists and turns, particularly with COVID, but I think that’s just generally the course of doing anything entrepreneurial. And just being able to roll with the punches and say, no, we’re going to stay true to the mission and eyes on the prize and being able to roll with it has been a great lesson in being flexible.

Kevin Shen:

I just wanted to ask you straight up. What is your favorite book in your box and out of your box?

Joe English:

Maybe they’re the same one actually. [inaudible 00:25:31] Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. I think-

Kevin Shen:

Of course.

Joe English:

It’s just always comes to mind right off the bat. I mean, personally, it was the first piece of literature that I read where I felt, wow. Like I fully relate to this main character in a way that I’ve never felt like I related to a main character before. And like that moment of like that… It’s like a revelation basically, to be able to understand someone like that and feel like someone’s writing to you and for you. Obviously, he was not right. But I felt that way.

Kevin Shen:

Right. I know we talked about getting in touch with the schools, and now you’re saying you have a big wait list for these schools. Well, I guess, now they’re finding you, how did they find you? A, but then how do you, how did you approach them? Were you cold calling just random schools or, and what was the response?

Joe English:

The original list of schools that we use for our pilot, we basically reached out to, called or through friends from college. They’re like we’re in grew up in rural areas and still had educators that they were in touch with. So that was more kind of outbound and approaching them and seeing if this was something that they would be interested in. But since then, we’ve done basically no outreach on our end. It’s all been kind of inbound, organic interest. We find typically that for any one school that we support, we’ll get like two to four other schools in neighboring counties or areas that reach out to us asking to participate. So we now have just over 600 schools on our wait list, all over the country. It’s been incredibly inspiring to see educators really care about this, want to step up and do more.

Kevin Shen:

Wow. That’s amazing and very impressive. Do you have educators who are reluctant to do it?

Joe English:

It’s just really interesting. Educators generally are very, very supportive. The worry sometimes comes with school boards.

Kevin Shen:

Yeah.

Joe English:

And I think it’s intuitive in a way, right? I mean, scores are political institutions, right? They’re elected officials. They’re not spending time in classrooms in a way that educators spend time in classrooms. And they see students who are struggling with their own identity, or they see some students who are being bullied. And they see the need then to find programs and materials to support those students and all students to create more empathy among all students. So typically, what we find is, educators will be super interested or librarians or school social worker or school psychologist, or someone like that, looking to on the ground will be excited.

And that usually is enough to say, yeah, we’re going to bring this to the school. And we’ll go from there. In a couple instances, we’ve had school boards pushback, but the trick there has been again to frame this in very human terms, right? This is not some conceptual conversation about civil rights or about a political agenda is a very simple human discussion about how we made sure kids feel safe at school. There is not a single parent or teacher that wants to see a child ostracized. There’s no one that wants to see a kid bullied. And if this is part of the solution and the teachers on the ground say this is a part of the solution, we should listen to them.

Kevin Shen:

How has the pandemic changed things with Hope in a Box?

Joe English:

Yeah, it was pretty unexpected actually. So our initial reaction, I think like a lot of organizations was, “Hey, let’s make everything digital.” Like let’s transition all of our books to eBooks, all of our programming to Zoom.

Kevin Shen:

Cool.

Joe English:

But we talked to a bunch of our educators and said like, “Is this actually going to be useful for you?” And what we heard from most of them is actually strongly preferred, continuing to get physical resources. The reason for that one is a lot of rural schools they’re not affected by COVID in the exact same way as urban districts. They have lower population density that it’s easier for them to reopen. So they are still in the building, a lot of times. And the other, many rural schools and title one schools they just don’t have the technology to really make full use of eBooks. Like they don’t have tablets, they don’t have e-readers. They don’t have computers for all their students. So, sending them digital books, actually in some ways, reinforces the inequality in those schools. Physical books actually can be quite a bit more versatile.

Kevin Shen:

Right. That makes sense. I think it’s time for our fast five, which is how we end all these podcasts. So I’m going to ask you five questions and your job is to answer quickly. The first thing that comes to your mind, they’re pretty fun. And we may have probably talked about some of them already. Firstly, what are two apps or websites that you can’t live without?

Joe English:

Oh God, The New Yorker . Not to sound like a complete terrible coastal liberal. Wow. I actually never used, I’m so bad with my phone. I guess Gmail. That’s the most right answer ever, but it’s true.

Kevin Shen:

Cool. Two, if I looked at the music on your iPhone or iPad, right… iPod, I love that, that’s not the question. If I looked at the music on your iPhone right now, what would most surprise me?

Joe English:

Country, Soul country.

Kevin Shen:

Oh, wow. That does surprise me. Exciting. Favorite book or piece of music or art that has helped or inspired you in your life?

Joe English:

Oscar Wilde. I love him. Incredible author.

Kevin Shen:

Cool. Any book in specifically.

Joe English:

I mean, A Picture of Dorian Gray, I think, is a masterpiece. Every single sentence is like perfectly constructed.

Kevin Shen:

And what quote or motto do you live by?

Joe English:

Oh God, I feel like I can’t pull one of these to mind right off the bat. There’s a quote. It’s about luck being a function of preparedness and chance. I can’t quote it for you because I don’t know it well enough.

Kevin Shen:

No, I know what you’re talking about and I can’t quote it to you either, but I got you. And finally, what makes the Coke Scholars Program or network unique?

Joe English:

Many things. I would actually say that some of my closest friends in life, I’m not just saying this because Carolyn’s paying me to say this. She’s not. Some of my closest friends in life actually came from like the Coca-Cola Scholars network – Joel Bervell. Who’s one of my best friends from school and from Coca-Cola and from life. I met him that weekend. He was actually one of the reasons why I was able to start Hope in a Box and was super helpful in thinking through this question and this program just from the earliest day. And then he’s one of my biggest supporters and I’m one of his biggest supporter. So, the people as cliché as that is, it’s really true.

Kevin Shen:

Very cool. Yeah. It’s a great network. I love it. It’s been wonderful talking to you, Joe. Your organization sounds so cool and inspiring. How do Scholars help support Hope in a Box? Can we donate to you or what’s the best way to kind of get the word out or support your organization?

Joe English:

Yeah. So I mean just two ways to support. One, if you know an educator or a school that you think would benefit from Hope in a Box, send them to our website, they can fill out a short application and get on the wait list. We’re supporting more and more schools every single semester. So we’d love to support that Coke Scholars are connected to. And the second, obviously, the other half of that is helping us bring Hope in a Box to more schools and it costs $500 to bring, to support an entire school with our program. Any dollar amount makes a difference $5 if you all are 500, right on our website, hopeinabox.org/donate there a bunch of different levels to give if you have the ability to.

Kevin Shen:

Cool. Well, that was a pleasure.

Joe English:

Excellent.

Transitional music

Ericka Jones:

We hope you enjoyed this episode between Kevin and Joe for links to Hope in a Box and other things they discussed. Check out our show notes or coca-colascholarsfoundation.org. And if you have an extra minute, we’d love for you to rate the show or leave us a review. This concludes our second season of The Coke Scholars Ignite Podcast. I’ve had a blast being a part of The SIP and I hope that you had, too.

Season three will feature even more incredible Coke Scholars. So get ready.

In the meantime, we are excited to bring you a bottler bonus episode where we’ll get to know Junior Bridgeman, owner and CEO of the Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company. From playing professional basketball with the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers, shout out to Los Angeles, to owning over 450 restaurants in 20 States, he has an incredible career journey. Junior is also on the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Board of Directors. So make sure you do not miss this special bonus episode.

Thank you for joining us for season two of The SIP. See you next time.