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My Birthday Wish

Six years ago this month, I embarked on a life-changing journey to start Generation Hope.   People told me how much work it would be and the challenges of getting a nonprofit up and running, but no one could have prepared me for how rewarding it has truly been.   

  Nicole and her daughter, Nerissa, while Nicole attended the College of William & Mary as a teen mother

Nicole and her daughter, Nerissa, while Nicole attended the College of William & Mary as a teen mother

Generation Hope has grown from supporting seven teen mothers in college in 2011 with the mentoring, tuition support, and case management that they needed to thrive to now  serving 65 teen mothers and fathers across the region.  Eight teen mothers have earned bachelor's degrees through our program, and 12 more will graduate this May.  And there is more growth on the horizon.  We are now recruiting our sixth Scholar class, bringing the number of Scholars in our program to 80-85.  

I've met amazing young parents and inspiring supporters along the way.  

March is also my birthday month.  On Saturday, I'll be 36 years old, and my birthday wish is that we would receive enough gifts in honor of my birthday to send 36 of our Scholars (our newest class of students) to our annual gala, "Pep Rally Under the Stars", on June 24th.   "Pep Rally Under the Stars" is an evening of inspiration and celebration that communicates to our students that a room full of people believe in their potential.  And there is no limit to what we can do when someone simply believes in us.

Tickets to the gala are $135, but a gift of any amount will help us reach this goal.  If you can find a way to make a donation today, it will change a young parent's life -- and their child's life.

Thank you so much and happy spring!

When Ms. Obama Calls, We Answer

In a message to the White House email list last month, the first lady asked Americans to make a local commitment to help at least one young person make his or her way into higher education. Generation Hope is answering Ms. Obama’s call to action: 

Generation Hope is making college a reality for young people whom we often dismiss from the college conversation -- teen parents.

Generation Hope (supportgenerationhope.org) supports teen parents who are pursuing a college degree. The students we help are our “Scholars”: By finding funds to support them, and matching a mentor to each young parent, Generation Hope paves the way to college for young parents who have children of their own—and helps break the cycle of poverty in America. 

Like Ms. Obama, we believe in the power of education. Less than 2% of teen mothers earn a college degree before age 30, and the cost to taxpayers associated with teen childbearing is $9.4 billion, according to The National Campaign. We want to break this cycle that affects so many young Americans. A college education is our weapon. And we’re making progress every day. 

Since our founding in 2010, we have provided nearly $55,000 in tuition assistance, supported 26 Scholars, celebrated two college graduates, and presented college-readiness workshops to more than 275 high school students who are pregnant or parenting. With support from mentors, our Scholars do well in their academics and careers. The list of successes is many: One Scholar who recently graduated from the program and works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is now working on her master’s degree. Another is a fine arts teacher at a private school.  

Generation Hope can thrive only when people understand and act on the White House’s conviction that an education is the first step to changing lives. In the case of Generation Hope—the parent's, and their child’s.

 Scholar Marikit Williams with her daughter Maleah.  Marikit graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in December 2013.

Scholar Marikit Williams with her daughter Maleah.  Marikit graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in December 2013.

A Community in their Corner

 Megan at our 2013 Fall Field Trip to the National Building Museum!

Megan at our 2013 Fall Field Trip to the National Building Museum!

In graduate school, it’s easy to think that your life is far more busy, complicated, and stressful than anyone else’s daily routine. As a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, I certainly find myself sliding into this pool of self-pity at times. Then I think about the phenomenal Scholars I’ve gotten the chance to work with through Generation Hope. These young women are just that—Scholars—and many of them the first in their families to attend college. Not only are they managing demanding course loads, but our Scholars are raising families of their own, working both part and full time jobs, and staying actively involved in their campuses and communities (one Scholar serves as President of her school’s student government!).  Their perseverance really puts my “PhD problems” in perspective!

As a first generation college student myself, I have experienced both the incredible challenges and opportunities afforded by higher education. Navigating the bureaucracy of college was completely overwhelming at times—and I was only taking care of myself! Thus, I signed up to volunteer with Generation Hope the very same day I learned about what this organization was doing to help young moms make their educational goals a reality. After meeting with Generation Hope staff, we realized that one of the most challenging transitions in college is the huge leap in the rigor of the coursework. Also, because our Scholars have responsibilities beyond their own schooling, their professor’s office hours aren’t always accessible for their schedules. So, we began a tutoring program, matching local volunteers with varying types of expertise with Scholars who need help in a particular subject area. More than that, our volunteers have helped students apply for scholarships, look over resumes and cover letters, proofread papers, and even just help with general college study skills. It’s been awesome to see our Generation Hope family grow through these partnerships, and the encouragement our Scholars feel through such strong support from the community! So far this year, we’ve matched almost half of our Scholars with tutors, showing just how necessary this program is and what a huge difference it can make in their lives.

We are always looking for more tutoring partners, especially in the math and science fields! If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering, just fill out the application on our website!

-Megan Fitzmaurice, Tutor Program Coordinator

"Pep Rally Under the Stars" filled our Bleachers!

On Friday, June 28, 2013, Generation Hope hosted its second annual gala "Pep Rally Under the Stars," and it was a major success!  The event raised more than $40,000 to fund our vital work over the next year, included a heartfelt message from Academy Award Nominated Actress Taraji P. Henson, and was a ton of fun for all!  

While I'm not the sports expert, I chose to make an analogy to sports in my remarks that night.  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say, and my daughter's experience playing basketball for the past 7 years came to mind.  I told the audience that sports is indeed an analogy for life.  "Our community is a team, and we cannot win over poverty, homelessness, and hunger, unless we care about every player on the court."  It is so important for every player to look over their shoulder and see someone in the bleachers rooting for them.  In this case, our Scholars need to know that someone is there, believing that they can earn their college degree.

That night, nearly 200 people at our gala "filled the bleachers."  For that, we truly thank you.

SAVE THE DATE FOR NEXT YEAR!  JUNE 20, 2014

- Nicole

 

Meet Our New Intern, Rashia!

Hello!  My name is Rashia Canlas, a recent graduate of Bowie State University.  Last December, I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Child and Adolescent Studies with minors in Early Childhood Education and Special Education.  I plan on going back to school to get my Master’s degree in Project Management and Human Resources.  In the past, I’ve interned at the Department of Labor and the Department of Education to get exposure to the workforce and the federal government.  After my internships, I was curious to see how nonprofit organizations worked, so here I am today.  I live in a single parent household with my dad and older sister, who is a registered nurse.  In my free time, I love to spend time with my family and friends, attend church activities, and watch sports.  

We're so excited to have you, Rashia!