Fellow Since 1998
Agape Copeland Train
This profile was prepared when William Solomon was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Students in their final year of secondary school need tools to help them understand the opportunities and challenges facing them. With government resources increasingly directed to urban centers, this is a particularly difficult problem in rural schools. Conventional wisdom among graduating students is that their future lies in the urban areas, although they are very uncertain about exactly what that future might be. William Solomon has created an organization, Agape Copeland Train (ACT), which challenges this conventional wisdom. Because rural schools do not have effective guidance and counseling functions, ACT's initiative is new insofar as it offers a service that is both available and affordable to a broad range of students. But the newness of the ACT initiative goes beyond re-inventing a traditional school function, it engages students in community activities and links student groups from various schools who take part in his program. William's hope is that these groups will form the nucleus of a new generation of civic leadership, and that an increasing proportion of these people will remain in rural areas. In various ways William is encouraging these groups to take on collective activities in their post-graduation years. William's idea differs in significant ways from other services in this field. Information about resources is available in select universities but is just that--a source of program information. There are a select number of private counseling services and educational consultants offering programs on a fee-for-service basis but these are typically sequenced training exercises whose cost is beyond the resources of public schools or most individuals.