June 2nd 2015
“You’re a lost cause!”
Not exactly an encouraging start, yet that was the startling first line of Cafee’s college application essay. His second line was even more self-deprecating:
“Nobody believes you’re going to make it!”
I’m sure the Admissions staff member at the university did a double take when reading this discouraging introduction.
“Why do you even try? Stop playing, you’re going to end up right back on the block with us.”
Then Cafee gave the reader a glimpse of his daily struggle.
“These are just a few of the things I hear on a daily basis. It is hard to keep my head up in this life storm, but I must keep going. I try to show that having values and goals does not make me a weak punk in this city. I believe, in order for me to make it, I have to be ‘deaf to the hood’, strong-minded, and persistent at doing what it takes to achieve my goals.”
When I read Cafee’s college application, I was reminded of a story about Saint Francis. Early in his career Francis lived with a group of his ecclesiastical brothers in the rural outskirts of the small Italian town of Assisi. Living simple and pious lives, the young men demonstrated compassion for the impoverished and tried to make every encounter a testimony of Christ’s love. Occasionally Francis would venture into Assisi.
Whenever he journeyed into
town, Francis looked for a beggar to accompany him.
“When we arrive at the gates of the city,” Francis confided to the beggar, “I will need you to whisper in my ear, ‘Francis, you are a beloved child of God. You are a child of heaven and precious in God’s sight.’”
Perplexed, the beggar asked, “For what reason, Francis?”
Francis replied, “My father is abusive. If I meet him in the streets, he will hurl the worst insults and curse me out!”
“And, Brother Francis, when should I stop whispering in your ear?”
“Don’t stop saying it until I believe it again,” he replied.
Fortunately, Cafee is surrounded by the UrbanPromise community—a chorus of adults who whisper in his ear, every day (sometimes every hour)—that he is a child of God, that he has the intellect, the ability, and the promise to do great things with his life.
And, because you care, you are part of our chorus. You are part of this community.
You may not be teaching in our classrooms or driving one of our vans. You may not be tutoring at an afterschool program, and you’re probably not camping with the kids on Trekker trips or helping build boats. But you must realize you are part of the chorus. You are one of the voices that remind our child
ren that they, too, are precious children of God.
Every time you send a gift, say a prayer, write a note of affirmation, you are delivering a new message to our youth.
And on the wings of that chorus, 100% of the youth in our programs are graduating from high school—compared with only 55% from our public schools and like Cafee, 93% of our graduates are going on to college.
So I’m offering you a unique opportunity to join that collective, affirming voice. Many graduating seniors are preparing for college, and many of them aren’t sure they will make it. But through staff counseling, tutoring, SAT prep classes, assistance with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms, and college visits, we’re encouraging our graduating seniors to succeed.
Please support our College Readiness Program! For just $19 you can underwrite an SAT prep class for a student, $54 covers the costs for college applications for a student, or $520 covers a 4-week summer college readiness class for 5 students. Please review the pledge card to see how you can help.
Let’s grow that whisper to a communal shout: Cafee, you are a child of God, capable of great things!
P.S. I hope you will join me in supporting our high school students and make a donation!