Win the Inner Battle with Mawi

You have more in you than you can imagine.

Mawi Honored as Youth Advocate of the Year

by Erika Emerick on April 21, 2015

Mawi Asgedom will receive the 2015 Advocate for Youth Award from SCOPE-Midwest. The Advocate for Youth Award is presented annually to an individual or organization that demonstrates a special commitment to improving the lives of children.

Since 1991, over 20,000 financially disadvantaged children, many from the Chicago area, have attended summer camp through SCOPE (Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education) camp scholarships. The award ceremony is dedicated to raising funds for SCOPE’s summer camps scholarship program.

“We are thrilled to present Mawi with The Youth Advocate Award at this year’s SCOPE benefit. This award goes to an individual who demonstrates a special commitment to improving the lives of children. The work Mawi does with today’s youth and teens will help them become productive, successful, and happy adults. We are fortunate to have Mawi as an advocate for how important a camp experience is for all children regardless of their socioeconomic background,” says Dayna Hardin, President of CampGroup LLC.

The award will be presented at SCOPE-Midwest’s annual fundraising dinner on Friday, April 24th at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, IL. Please visit to learn more and register for the event.

Like this post? Post Comment. Subscribe to blog at the top of this page.


Mawi to Keynote at National Symposium for Refugees

by Erika Emerick on April 20, 2015

Mawi will keynote The National Partnership for Community Training National Symposium on April 27th. The Connecting Leaders, Impacting Communities and Sustaining Programs: Strengthening the National Torture Treatment Network Symposium features leading experts in the torture treatment and refugee fields who will share tools and techniques for creating robust programs and networks.

Mawi’s remarkable journey took him from a Sudanese refugee camp to a full scholarship at Harvard University and then to training over 1,000,000 youth in life-changing success skills at his own company, Mawi Learning. At the National Symposium, he will deliver an inspiring and uplifting message to refugee and torture victim professionals about the importance of their work.

The National Symposium takes place on April 27th and 28th, 2015 at the University of Miami Student Activities Center. Please visit for more information and to register for the event.


Super ELL Earns Finalist Honors at SIIA CODiE Awards

by Erika Emerick on April 14, 2015

We are very excited to announce that our Super ELL course is a finalist in the prestigious Software & Industry Association (SIIA) annual CODiE Awards. The CODiE Awards are the premier award for the software and information industries, and have been recognizing product excellence since 1986.

Super ELL is honored in the Best ELL/World Language Acquisition Instructional Solution category.

Preview a video lesson in the course!

98 percent of ELL students recommend Super ELL to other students, while 94 percent say the course helped them with their other classes. The lessons, which are accessible on computers and tablets, cover topics such as time management, goal-setting, community impact, social networking, college readiness and pride in one’s heritage. Students learn through interactive tools, videos and engaging examples.

Winners in the Education category are announced at the Education Information Summit on May 3rd, 2015. We look forward to updating you on the status of our award!


Amy+MartWelcome to part two of our exciting interview with Amy Mart, Manager of Universal Supports, in the Chicago Public School’s Office of Social and Emotional Learning.  Today, Amy and Mawi discuss the meaning of restorative justice and what it looks like in a school setting.  Drawing upon a growing research base, they explore how restorative justice can improve learning outcomes, build strong faculty/student relationships and redefine our vision and goals for student accountability.

Check out the resources Amy mentions at the International Institute for Restorative Practices, and the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice.


Amy+MartHow can Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) transform school culture and academic success? How do you introduce (SEL) to skeptical colleagues and friends?  What does it look like to build sustainable structures to support SEL?   Amy Mart is the Manager of Universal Supports for the Office of Social and Emotional Learning for Chicago Public Schools, a district with over 600+ schools and 400,000+ students.  In part one of this two part series, Mawi asks Amy to share her insight on how SEL can help students and schools succeed.  In part two, Amy will delve deeper into the concept and best practices of Restorative Practices.

Check out the research Amy cites in her interview at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.




Meb’s 90/10 Rule

by Mawi on August 4, 2014

Conference Interview - Meb

At my conference last week, 2014 Boston Marathon Winner Meb Keflezghi said something I’ll always remember:

“Before race day, it’s 90 percent physical and 10% mental; on race day, it’s 90% mental and 10% physical.”

If grit is a coin, Meb’s 90/10 rule covers both sides. One side of the coin is the steady, disciplined grit that is not flashy but provides a strong foundation. The other side is pure courage; grit at its most raw, as we push ourselves beyond our preparation to new heights.


SEL Word Cloud

After a decade of focusing primarily on testing, schools across North America are prioritizing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Researchers like Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck have shown that grit, growth mindset, goal-setting, and other internal qualities drive student achievement and student well being.

There are two things that confuse many people regarding Social and Emotional Learning. First, we use a wide variety of terms to basically get at the same thing: character development, values education, non-cognitive skill building, and Social and Emotional Learning. Second, most of us do not have time to review all the research on SEL.

Here is a white paper that was released by the Educational Research Institute of America. The white paper takes a look at the six most research-based SEL principles, helps break down the nomenclature, and concludes by showing how Mawi Learning develops those principles in our Leadership Skills Class.


Meb-Keflezighi-300x187Long-distance runner Meb Keflezighi came to the United States with his family when he was 12 years old after feeling to Italy as a refugee from war torn Eritrea.  Early on, Meb discovered a passion for running that would lead him to win a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics Marathon competition and win the world-renowned NYC Marathon in 2009.

Alongside Meb’s phenomenal athletic success, his story of perseverance and discipline in the face of obstacles led him to found the MEB Foundation, promoting youth health, education and fitness through community investment and collaboration.

Loading the player …

In this interview, Meb shares insights from his personal story and reflects on the characteristic of perseverance as a major factor for success.   Meb will be speaking further on grit and perseverance at our summer Power of Adults ConferenceRegister now to reserve your spot!  For more on Meb’s incredible life story, check out his inspirational biography “Run to Overcome“.

Updated 4/21/14: A huge congratulations to Meb for winning the 2014 Boston Marathon!


Stop Talking About the Achievement Gap

by Mawi on November 26, 2013

The proverbial “Achievement Gap” describes the academic disparity between white and black/Hispanic students in our country.  I wonder sometimes: Has  the term “Achievement Gap”  gotten to the point where it is no longer useful, and might actually worsen the predicament it’s meant to fix?

Talk of the Achievement Gap might be compared to talk of going on a diet. If you’re talking about dieting, it means you probably haven’t lost much weight; and if you do somehow lose weight, you probably will gain it back shortly. We’ve tried lots of things:

  • Special, targeted programs aimed at boosting black/Hispanic student achievement.
  • Training to get Caucasian staff members more sensitive to diversity issues and continuing legacies of discrimination.
  • Programs that succeed at getting minority students into college, only to find out in many cases that the students drop out at high rates.

What’s wrong? Like the word “diet,” Achievement Gap is now an overwhelmingly negative, uninspiring term that conjures up dread among faculty that have heard the same thing for decades, with little change.   Can we change the conversation? Can we talk about the Greatness Opportunity? The raw brilliance, power, capability of all our students, and how we develop greatness – rather than decreasing persistent standardized testing gaps between races.

I’ve always had a vision that our youth – ALL OUR YOUTH –  are like supreme Jedi waiting to dazzle our world with their power and brilliance. But the Achievement Gap paradigm/lexicon has us training our Jedi to work as servers at the cantina in the rundown bar in Stars Wars 4, and using all our resources to increase  their customers served / minute.

The problem isn’t the gap; the problem is the uninspiring and often depressing conversation we have attached ourselves to as a country.  Minority kids know instinctively how uninspiring the “The Achievement Gap” paradigm is, and if we are honest with ourselves, we know it too as adults.


David VincaDavid Vinca is the Founder & CEO of eSpark Learning, which partners with schools to create a personalized learning plan for each student that utilizes iPads and hand-picked educational apps. Before eSpark, David spent four years teaching and four years as a management consultant. David has a BS from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from the University of Chicago, where he studied social entrepreneurship.

Maya Lopuch

Maya Lopuch is the Data Scientist at eSpark Learning.  Prior to joining eSpark, she was a researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and she holds degrees in Economics and Public Policy from Stanford University and the University of Chicago.

Mawi’s Espark interview ▶ custom player

{ 1 comment }

Where is your Secret Ocean?

October 24, 2013

Several times in my career, I’ve talked with inner cities kids who live just a mile from an ocean or a Great Lake, but have never visited. I’m always stunned and saddened when I meet these students.  I think, “How could you be so close to something so amazing, and never go?” What if the […]

Read the full article →

The Unexpected Benefits of Music: Interview with Elizabeth Frascoia

September 17, 2013

Listen in as Elizabeth Frascoia shares some of the unexpected benefits engaging in music can have, and what this can mean for youth. Elizabeth Frascoia is a dedicated educator working in New York City and Los Angeles, committed to helping students of all ages gain greater confidence through music.  She has worked with over 10,000 […]

Read the full article →

Creating the Community We Desire: Interview with Allan Davenport

May 28, 2013

Allan is the Principal of Crone Middle School (Naperville, IL). Allan’s interview shares specific strategies for building a culture of success and respect in a middle school of 1,000 students.  You will also learn what he means when he says, “The Crone Way.”

Read the full article →

A Cultural Shift Reduces Bullying by 1/3: Interview with Elizabeth Carswell (Conference Sneak Peek!)

May 21, 2013

Meet Elizabeth Carswell, one of our keynoters for our upcoming Summer Conference. In this interview with Mawi, Elizabeth shares best practices from her work with 1,000 schools as the director of Core Essential Values, including the story of how one school reduced bullying by 33%. Hear more from Elizabeth at our Mawi Learning Summer Conference: The […]

Read the full article →

It’s a Lifestyle, Not a Program: Interview with Clayton Muhammad (Conference Sneak Peek!)

May 17, 2013

Meet Clayton Muhammad, one of our keynoters for our upcoming Summer Conference. In this interview with Mawi, Clayton shares how his city reduced homicides from 25 in 2003 to 0 in 2012. Clayton also describes how his innovative Boys II Men program achieves 100% graduation rates. Hear more from Clayton at our Mawi Learning Summer Conference: The Power […]

Read the full article →

Class Act: Interview with Jon Hallmark

May 7, 2013

If you’re looking for innovate ways to build character and leadership in your students, do not miss this interview with Jon Hallmark, Principal of Highland Middle School in Libertyville, IL. Among other things, you will be inspired by how Jon’s students are helping to build schools in Uganda.

Read the full article →

The Power of Adult Education: Interview with David Adcock

April 30, 2013

Adult eduction is one of the fastest growing trends in the U.S. In this interview, we get to hear from David Adcock, the current Director of Urbana Adult Education and incoming President of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Education Association.

Read the full article →

Innovation and Design: Interview with Dr. Saeed Arida

April 23, 2013

This interview with Dr. Saeed Arida will amaze you, inspire you, and show you that our students have tremendous genius waiting to be unlocked. Dr. Arida is the Founder and Chief Excitement Officer at NuVu Studio, a magnet innovation center for young minds. He received his PhD in architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where his doctoral […]

Read the full article →

The Two Journeys We All Go On

April 18, 2013

All of us go on two journeys in life. The first journey is easier to see and describe.  This journey consists of things such as: Places we have lived. For example, people who know my story know that I fled Ethiopia, lived in a refugee camp in Sudan, and came to the United States when […]

Read the full article →

How Summer Camps Build Character: Interview with Dan Weir

April 3, 2013

Many parents across the U.S. are finalizing plans right now for what summer camp their students will attend. I had a chance recently to speak to over 1,000 camp owners at the American Camp Association. Dan Weir runs one of the largest and most successful summer camps in the United States, Frost Valley YMCA (NY). […]

Read the full article →