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!

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

Why Our Backpack Is So Important

Right now, we're working on our fall newsletter that will be mailed to everyone on our mailing list next month.  One of the articles is by Maggie Riden, Executive Director of the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA).  I asked Maggie to share information on a survey DCAYA did on the city's homeless youth.  The findings will shock you.  Nearly 50% of DC homeless youth are young parents under the age of 24.  They're living on the streets or couch hopping with their small children.  One of the most significant causes for their being homeless?  Lack of education. 

This month, Generation Hope is holding our "Fill Our Backpack With Hope" campaign, which has a goal of raising $5,000 to spread the message that college is possible to 150 expecting or parenting high school students this year.  We custom design our college-readiness workshops for teen parents, and we go into schools, churches, homeless shelters, local agencies -- anywhere we can -- to give teen parents hope for college.  

And it works.  23% of our current Scholars were encouraged to go to college and to apply to our program through one of our workshops.

Your gift of $50 will have a major impact on our community.  It will create change where we need it most.  It will help to get young families off of the streets and on their way to lasting success.  Please make a donation today. 

Thank you.

 - Nicole


Whole Foods Foggy Bottom 5% Day to Benefit GH!

I don't think anyone needs an excuse to shop at Whole Foods (let's be honest, the food is amazing!), but we have one for you: On Wednesday, January 16th, Whole Foods Foggy Bottom will donate 5% of their sales to Generation Hope!  

If you're in the D.C. area on Wednesday, we invite you to swing by, say hello, and make a purchase to show your support!  Generation Hope's table will be right by the store entrance so we can greet customers and tell them about our mission!

Oh, and we'll be live tweeting, posting pics to Facebook, and holding raffles for Generation Hope t-shirts and greeting cards throughout the day.  Don't miss the fun!

- Nicole

Discovering a World through Purposeful Play: 2012 Fall Field Trip to Port Discovery

Last month, Generation Hope hosted its 2012 fall field trip to Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.  Port Discovery's mission is to connect purposeful play and learning.  With three floors of highly interactive exhibits, that's exactly what our Scholar's children did - and how exhilarating it was!  It was the perfect cure to everyone's frustration from driving around in circles due to the unexpected traffic and blocked streets caused by a Marathon!

After walking through the doors to the museum, little eyes gleamed with excitement as they caught a glimpse of what the museum had to offer.  Making our way to the entrance, we were greeted by a massive urban tree house that stretched three stories high and granted access to every floor of the museum.  There was climbing, crawling and laughter shared by those big and small.  Some enjoyed shopping in a make-believe grocery store, while others filled a real car with gas using a real gas pump - using imaginary gas of course!

Once we had our fill of the first floor, we were off to discover the second and third floor. There was so much to do!  Reading, building, bouncing and painting, but wait, there was more!  Some went on a journey to Egypt and heard mysterious sounds in the tombs - meow! While others enjoyed face painting or singing oldies to their favorite tunes - this staff member shall remain nameless.  Our last stop was the fully equipped lifelike diner, where the children enthusiastically took orders, and fired up the stove in the kitchen.  The food appeared so authentic that everyone started to feel famished, so we knew it was time for lunch. 

When all was said and done, everyone had forgotten about the two hours it took to get there. Scholars received their much-needed wish list items, and the day was complete.  My little one slept all the way home, which in little-person language means, “Mommy, I had a great day.”

To see pictures from our trip to Port Discovery click here.

Each year, Generation Hope hosts two family-strengthening activities for our Scholars, their children, and their Sponsors.  These activities help our participants deepen their familial relationships and offer exposure to new experiences through a variety of field trips, fun activities, and gatherings.  If you are interested in sponsoring an activity or donating an experience package to our program please contact

- Kendria