A commercial led me to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club four years ago. The groundbreaking, 2014 Under Armour commercial, “I Will What I Want,” featuring Misty Copeland, was the first time a ballerina was featured by an athletic apparel company. Millions of others, including myself, were in awe of that commercial and it inspired me to learn more about Misty Copeland. I learned that her talent was discovered at a Boys and Girls Club, which led to an opportunity for her to take professional ballet lessons. Eventually, she achieved the distinction of being the first woman of color named the prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theater. Her life story inspired me to volunteer at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties, where I discovered other children of great talent who could also go on to change the world if they, too, were given opportunities.
As I tutored third to fifth grade students, I saw that many of these bright, promising children were not offered the opportunity to reach their academic potential in their mostly disadvantaged, minority schools. I reached out to Triangle Day School and The Duke School, two highly successful Durham independent schools, to discuss a partnership to give several fifth and sixth grade Boys & Girls Club students the opportunity to apply to and attend their schools during the middle school years. While there, they would receive an academically challenging and diverse education for just $500 per year; Students to Scholars and partner schools would pay for the rest of the tuition. Both schools recognized the opportunity as one that could change lives and together, along with Benay Hicks, the Director of Operations at BGC, we formed Students to Scholars, a volunteer-led initiative to help bright BGC students prepare for the college track during their middle school years. In 2017, the first four children began their new school experience at our partner schools. Later that year, we added two other Durham independent schools as partners, Carolina Friends School and Durham Academy. Nine students are in Students to Scholars in the 2018-19 academic year. In 2019-20, and each year following, we hope to add six to eight new students, which will bring us to a total of 24-28 students in the program each year, all receiving a challenging education.
Our scholars are now on an academic path that will prepare them for college placement classes in high school so that they can compete for admission to any college by the time they are high-school seniors. This will change the trajectories of their lives, and has already changed the way their families think about education. Students to Scholars will change the world, one middle school student at a time.
Students to Scholars is entirely volunteer-based so 100% of your donations will go to the student’s education. I hope you will join Benay and me, with our school partners, to be a part of this exciting opportunity to turn promising students into scholars.