B.E.S.T. Shapes Lives of African American Students for 30 Years

For a guy who has always been the glass-half-full-to-overflowing type, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Counting my blessings fits with my optimistic outlook.

There’s a lot to be thankful for this year: my family, our health, Kalix Marketing’s new and continued clients and reaching our five-year milestone last May. I am also deeply thankful for the great team of people I work with to do work we truly find fulfilling – helping independent schools grow and thrive.

One of the things I am most thankful for is a decision I made about this time last year: to give back a portion of Kalix’s 2017 proceeds to a Baltimore-area non-profit. The choice was an easy one. For the past three decades, the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.) has been changing lives and communities.

Building bridges to enrollment and retention.

Founded in 1987 to serve Baltimore’s underserved African American families, B.E.S.T. builds a bridge to enrollment and retention into Baltimore’s vibrant independent school community and creates a college-going culture among B.E.S.T. students. This fall, B.E.S.T. celebrates its 30th  anniversary and three decades of educating leaders in Baltimore’s independent school community to lead and shape our schools, city, country and world.

Access to independent schools and higher education for students of color continues to be an important issue that each of us in the educational world needs to address. Since its founding, B.E.S.T. has focused on helping families gain access to Baltimore’s independent schools. The nonprofit guides them through the admission process and creates several thriving student and family support programs for B.E.S.T. students. There is extensive academic and customized college-bound support. Over the years, B.E.S.T. has added leadership programming for B.E.S.T. students in high school that includes networking with Baltimore’s leaders, workshops on career exploration and more. B.E.S.T. alumni receive assistance with internships during and post-college.

BEST Alumni
A recent gathering of B.E.S.T. alumni, former B.E.S.T. students who attended Baltimore independent schools through the B.E.S.T. program.

What B.E.S.T. has achieved in 30 years is phenomenal. Today, 900 B.E.S.T. alumni serve throughout Baltimore and across the globe. In 1987, five independent schools joined B.E.S.T. as member schools to accept B.E.S.T. students. Today, there are 19 member schools and 331 B.E.S.T. students, K-12.

“I wish I could go back and start my B.E.S.T. years over again…”

~ Crystal Lee, B.E.S.T. Alumni

Crystal Lee has experienced B.E.S.T. in many roles from B.E.S.T. student at Garrison Forest School Class of 1996 to B.E.S.T. Director of Advancement and a 2016 “40 Under 40” honoree by Baltimore Business Journal,. “As a B.E.S.T. alumna, a former trustee, and now as a staff member, I have had the privilege of seeing almost the entirety of B.E.S.T.’s growth over the past 30 years,” she says. “I wish I could go back and start my B.E.S.T. years over again to have the benefit of Summer Scholars to help with my transition to my new school and the gift of the programming that B.E.S.T. now provides to students and families. I am so proud of B.E.S.T., all of our 331 current students and of all the alumni that it has helped along the way.”

We are deeply proud as well! Happy 30th Anniversary, B.E.S.T.!  All of us at Kalix Marketing are thankful for the opportunities you provide each day and for the transformative ways you make the independent school community a more diverse, vibrant, community-focused place.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Kalix!

Jonathan Oleisky is the president and founder of Kalix Marketing.

President’s Notes
Jonathan Oleisky

Jonathan Oleisky

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