Blog: August 2015

Monday, August 24

Imagine the opportunity to make a low risk investment that could yield a million dollars?

StreetLeader graduate and current UrbanPromise board member Arlene Wube has done this 43 times. I’ll tell you her secret, which she learned from an UrbanPromise donor.

Arlene had a dream to enable young people from Camden to attend college. It was a dream that grew out of her own experience: she came close to dropping out her second year of college due to the gap between the college bill, financial aid, and her ability to pay. However, an UrbanPromise donor made up the difference.  She graduated from Howard, went onto get her MBA, and is now a proud business owner, mother, and wife living in Washington, DC. In 2011, she started the UrbanPromise Ambassadors of Hope scholarship fund.

Thanks to Arlene’s dream and hard work, UrbanPromise has been able to fill the financial gap for 43 of our high school graduates since that time. These 43 students have gone on to college, and 100 percent have either graduated from college or are still in school today. This is an amazing outcome that surpassed our hopes.

Our young people are grateful for your investment in them, and they are working hard at college. They are making the most of their opportunities.  They are spending their free time teaching elderly people ESL, as Natasha Santiago is doing at TCNJ.  They are leading mentoring groups for African American men, like Dominic Bowman is doing at Montclair. They are earning good grades, like Mecca Perry, a 4.0 student. They proudly report their grades (because we require it). They commit to remaining drug and alcohol free, and they come to speak to our children during their breaks. They are taking all that they’ve learned at UrbanPromise, and they are continuing to help others by making a difference with their lives.

They are making us proud.

However, it is also true that not having book money or not having a meal plan can be the difference in a student’s success or failure.  For the first time in 4 years, our scholarship fund balance is not enough to meet the needs of 27 of our college students for the upcoming school year.  Our gap is $45,000, which will cover scholarships ranging from $500 to $8,000. 

Please consider helping. Every dollar you invest in an UrbanPromise college student will yield a phenomenal return: the lifetime earnings difference between a college graduate and a high school graduate is a million dollars!

Please join Arlene in making a million dollar investment today.

Jodina Hicks
Executive Director

Support a college student

This summer I was in charge of over 30 teens and 180 campers at UrbanPromise. I made sure camp went well and was running properly. I also mentored teens and built relationships with them. Thanks to UrbanPromise’s support, my sister and I were able to go to college. I graduate this year. 

— Dominique McBurrows, Virginia State University
UrbanPromise participant since 2008

 I’ve had the pleasure and honor of being involved with UrbanPromise for 6 years. In those years, I’ve been a camp kid, volunteer, and StreetLeader, all of which have shaped me into the motivated, level-headed man I am becoming. 

Stephen Cobb, Rowan University
UrbanPromise participant since 2009

My experience with the StreetLeader Program was one of the best experiences I have ever had … During my first year of college I realized books are really expensive, and one of the hardest things for me to purchase during college. UrbanPromise helped me buy my books. Thank you. 

Mecca Perry
UrbanPromise participant since 2010

I have been a part of UrbanPromise since first grade. UrbanPromise helped groom me not to become a statistic. This is my first year as an independent student due to the sudden death of my mother last year. I am hoping UrbanPromise can provide some financial help so I can keep going. 

Dominic Bowman, Montclair University
UrbanPromise participant since 2001

My relationship with UrbanPromise is unconditional. It is my second family. I will always help out at UrbanPromise, because they gave me a great start.  

Natasha Santiago, The College of New Jersey
UrbanPromise participant since 2008

Thursday, August 13

Every Sunday night during the summer, our summer college interns/missionaries gather on Sunday night for worship and sharing. They share stories from the week, some of them pretty funny. Most of them are about how they see God working in Camden, in the kids, and in themselves.

I dread the last weekend of our summer program: interns are crying, kids are crying, StreetLeaders are crying. This past Sunday night was our last time to gather for worship. After 7 weeks of pouring every bit of themselves into the program, it was time for our 35 interns to say good-bye to Camden and the children they had come to love, and it was heart wrenching. 

The sharing time started slowly. No one wanted to get in front of the group and break down. But little by little they did. One by one, they shared about the kids who changed them. They recalled wanting to come to Camden to change the city, and instead found themselves changed by the love the children gave to them.

Then Sam stood up and shared about Juju, a 9-year-old boy at Camp Saved. Juju had won the Most Improved Camper award. I was struck by the realization that every summer for the past 5 years, I’ve heard intern stories about Juju. In 2010, I heard about Juju as a 4-year old, playing in the streets and riding his bike through downtown. The interns during the summer of 2010 were shocked that this little boy could be seen anywhere from the waterfront to south Camden on his bike, by himself.  They made an exception and let him into Camp 2 years before our starting age. 

The summer staff of 2011 fell in love with Juju, and his antics at camp kept them laughing. They would compose lesson plans with him in mind, inspired by the challenge of creating Bible and art lessons that would get him to listen. They began having him over for dinner; they went to his house to meet his mother. The summer interns of 2012, 2013, and 2014 shared regularly about the challenges, growth, and progress they saw in Juju. 

As our interns depart this week, we are grateful despite our tears. Because of your support and the willingness of young people to give a summer or school year of their lives, children like Juju continue to be loved and nurtured. They too will become Most Improved Campers, and they will have cherished memories of young college students who loved them and gave them everything they had to give.

Thank you for making this possible.    

Jodina Hicks
Executive Director

Subscribe to Blog: August 2015