"What do you do?"
I get asked (and in turn, ask) this question multiple times a day. I often say this: "I work in education."
What does that mean, really?
Typically, when we talk about "education," the first thing that comes to mind is K-12 schools. Almost every single one of us has gone to a K-12 public or private school — 99% of the American population does.  School is a common American experience. We all remember our bad history teacher who read from the text book, our inspiring math teacher who made us enjoy problem solving, or that dreaded multiple choice test that we crammed for the night before.
Yet, when we think about education, we should remember that it consists of not only K-12, but also a number of other subfields. Education can be broken down into five subfields: early childhood, K-12, higher education, vocational education, and special education. 
While I currently work in higher education at Minerva, of late I have also become interested in early childhood education.
The reason for this is that early childhood education is a huge leverage area for increasing equality of opportunity. The existing research suggests that a $1 investment in early childhood leads to an $8.60 return in increased earnings, money saved from lower crime rates, lower teen pregnancy, lower welfare dependence, and other positive indicators.  However, what I find particularly compelling about early childhood education is not the absolute impact of early childhood, but the relative impact of investing in early childhood vs. K-12. One of the main goals of K-12 school reform is reducing the achievement gap — the gap in a variety of measures (high school graduation rates, 8th grade test scores, 3rd grade tests scores, etc.) that exists between children of high and low socioeconomic status in the United States. Despite all of the resources poured into K-12 school reform to close this gap (money, time, people, policies), there are some studies that show that about half of the achievement gap (in graduation rates, test scores, etc. between those of high and low socioeconomic status) exists before kindergarten. 
Many children are already behind when they start kindergarten. And they might never catch up.
This insight is what inspired me to sign up to volunteer at a federally funded Head Start Center in San Francisco over the coming months. I can't wait to gain proximity to some of the problems in the field of early childhood and contribute a tiny bit to making sure all of our children start their education with a fair shot.
 National Center for Education Statistics Fast Facts, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65
 Wikipedia, "Education in the United States", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_States
 The White House, The Economics of Early Childhood Investments, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/early_childhood_report1.pdf
 "From Neurons to Neighborhoods", http://www.columbia.edu/cu/psychology/courses/3615/Readings/NeuronstoNeighborhoodsCH2.pdf