One of my many dreams is starting to play out and come true. I’ve been working with non-profits in the greater Washington, DC area for the past decade, primarily focused on helping children from lower-income families pursue their college education and / or get started in their work careers.
In mentoring and working closely with these young adults, I’ve seen there’s clearly not much of a difference in intellect or desire to achieve success in life. But, one of the drawbacks has been their socioeconomic background. Some people are fortunate to be born into families with two parents, a beautiful home in the suburbs, multiple automobiles, excellent education opportunities, etc while others are born and raised by a single mother, often times a teen-aged mother, who may not have much in way of housing, food, and other comforts of life.
One of my dreams has been to take a group of inner-city children, especially ones from Wards 7 and 8, and give them a tour by children from the well-to-do suburbs of places like Fairfax and Montgomery Counties. I want these youngsters to see that if they study hard in high school, attend college, and work hard, that they can achieve the “American dream.” Some youngsters in Wards 7 and 8 rarely have been out of their neighborhood and have never been to the suburbs. So, they don’t know anything else except their current environment.
At the same time, I’d love to see these young adults from Wards 7 and 8 and similar places provide a tour to the children from the well-to-do suburbs to show them their neighborhood … with the much tougher living environment, including small apartments, no cars, drug dealers in the neighborhood, etc. For the suburban youngsters, it’d open their eyes and hopefully make them appreciate what they have in the suburbs. Instead of complaining about not having the latest model tech gadget or a new piece of clothing or fancy car, it’d make them realize how fortunate they really are.
So, last Friday, we were able to start what I hope is a long-term partnership between one of the best non-profits in the area, Year Up, and Georgetown University’s GAMBLE (Georgetown’s Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs) group. Thanks to the leadership from Norean Sharpe, the new Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, and Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, Executive Director of Year UP DC, we’re creating a partnership between the two groups, which will include a business case competition taking place this month on the Georgetown campus.
Last Friday morning, we introduced nearly 100 Year Up Students to 30 GU GAMBLE students at the Year Up office in Rosslyn. Tiane Mitchell Gordon, AOL’s Chief Diversity Officer, and I both spoke to the students. Tiane spoke passionately about her terrific life, the importance of Diversity and Inclusion efforts and why it’s critical to believe in yourself and achieve your dreams.
I spoke about why education and philanthropy are so important to me — and why we need to do all we can to continue to give back and help others.
This coming Friday morning, Apr 16, we’re going to host the Year Up students on our Georgetown University campus — the GAMBLE students will have a mentoring session, specifically for the business case competition. Then, a tour of the campus will be provided to the Year Up students.
Then, on Fri, Apr 23, we’re going to stage a business case competition among the Year Up students at the new business school building on campus. I have been given the wonderful honor of delivering the keynote speech at the luncheon.
As noted at the beginning of this blog posting, this has been a dream of mine to expose inner-city, lower-income kids to places like Georgetown University – so it can inspire them to study, work hard and pursue their college education to make a difference in their lives. At the same time, I’d like some of the GU students to go visit where some of the inner-city kids are from … like Wards 7 and 8 as well as PG County. This will help the students, especially the ones from the nice suburbs, appreciate where they come from — and realize how good they’ve had it in life thus far.
This dream is indeed coming true. This is part my continued efforts to keep “paying it forward.” I will update my blog regularly about this new and terrific partnership.