- Featured, Letter from Executive Director, StreetLeader

A Letter from our Executive Director

“Hearing about college was different than seeing it.” Javon, 17

Dear Friend,

Ask any child we work with ‘Do you want to go college?’ and 99% reflexively answer “Yes.” And yet in our neighborhoods less than 1 in 5 will actually go to any college and less than half of those will finish. Why? Many reasons, to be sure, but a big one is it’s not real to them.

That’s why I’d like your help to send a team of our StreetLeaders on our annual College Vision Trip (CVT). 10 StreetLeaders and three staff will travel 2000 miles across the Southeast touring over a dozen colleges, visiting some cool places, and visiting important Civil Rights sites along the way. Walking on campuses with students who look like them, sleeping in dorms, and eating dining hall food on the CVT can make it real. (Dining hall food is an asset? Things have changed!)

Nayla, Micah, and Javon made the trip last year.

“My friend loved the trip when she went and it motivated me to go for the first time,” Nayla began, “I’ve always known I wanted to go to college but I’d only seen schools in Delaware. I wanted to see different colleges.” Micah and Javon were challenged by staff to take the trip.

“Mr. Josh told me it was important for me to do it. I didn’t want to say no because he has helped me a lot,” shared Micah. “Mr. Aaron and my Mom made me go,” Javon confessed, “Mom wanted me to have the opportunity of going to different colleges because a lot of kids don’t do stuff like that.”

“I was up all night before we left, I was so excited to be out of the house!” Micah laughed at the memory. The kids loved traveling with a group of their peers. Their best memory was the bonding that happened on the trip.

“Being with people I knew, you can talk more openly,” Isaiah offered. “Right,” Javon added, “Getting to know Nayla better helped me. I learned that she cares about me and wants to see me do good.”

“I was building better relationships with everybody because it becomes natural on a trip like that,” Nayla said. “God wanted for us to be in community with people, to build relationships. We spent more time in the van than out the first day, we were all geekin’!(Bonus definition: geekin means laughing and joking. You are now officially cooler than before you read this letter!)

The kids visit a diverse group of schools to give them perspective. One school stood out to them—Clark Atlanta, (although the boys did like walking the campus of basketball powerhouse Duke!).

“Clark Atlanta was really hype!” Nayla continued. “It was a nice day and students were all over the campus, studying and hanging out. I got a better sense and enthusiasm about kids like us on campus. I want my college experience to be great and I think an HBCU would be best for me.” It’s this kind of first hand experience that the College Vision Trip gives our kids; experiential knowledge to make a very important life decision.

“When we visited the schools we got to ask students about majors and life at school,” Javon shared, “I thought it would be boring, but it wasn’t. I liked the freedom they had. Hearing about college was different than seeing it. After we stayed in the dorm it seemed much more real and possible.”

Giving our kids a living perspective on their history is a powerful parallel objective. The Civil Rights Museum they visited in North Carolina had the original soda fountain counter and stools where the four African American young man staged their famous sit in, knowing how they would be abused.

“I knew about it,” Nayla said. “But seeing it was different. It made me visualize the four people and I wondered what I would have done.”

It made me feel grateful that I didn’t have to go through those things they went through,” Javon added in reflection.

“I’d like people to support this trip because people who went before me encouraged me,” Micah said, “They gave me vision and now I can encourage the younger kids who go this year. It’s like a chain we can keep going.”

“If people support this trip,” Nayla said in an urgent tone, “They’re actually giving us a life changing experience. It can literally change our future. We can’t know unless we go.”

Let them go. Please look at the response card and consider how you can invest to change their future. $500 covers the fuel for the vans to get them there and back and $300 pays for their group lodging one night. $125 is admission to the Voting Rights Museum and

$50 buys their lunch for a day on the dollar menu. If you can sponsor 4 students at $1000 or all of them at $2500 enjoy knowing you’ve changed their future.

Thank you for lifting up our teens!

Rob Prestowitz
Executive Director


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