SPECIAL EDITION: CHASING THE DREAM: THE CONTEMPORARY STATE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

Meet the organization using an age-old approach to overcome poverty and help young people chase their dreams. Susan L. Taylor, the former Editor–in-Chief of Essence magazine will join us to share the details.  He grew up in a life of poverty, drugs and jail, but chased his dreams to become a voice for his community.  “Chapter and Verse” star Daniel Beaty opens up about his dark past and his bright future.  Paula Gavin, CSO of iMentor, and Bianca Gottesman & Jade Nieves, a mentor-mentee duo, will discuss empowering first-generation students in low-income communities. The right to education, health, safety and equity. They’re all things that all children should be entitled to.  But for at risk youth getting them is not a guarantee. We caught up with the Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Samantha Levine, and one of the scholars who has beaten the odds, Elphram Chowdhury.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

 

Aired on June 30, 2017; January 1, 2018; July 3, 2018; December 28, 2018; July 15, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON A SPECIAL EDITION OF METRO FOCUS, CHASING THE DREAM.

MEET THE ORGANIZATION USING AN AGE OLD APPROACH TO OVERCOMING POVERTY AND HELP YOUNG PEOPLE BE THEIR BEST.

HE GREW UP IN A LIFE OF POVERTY, DRUGS AND JAIL BUT BEAT THE ODDS TO BECOME A VOICE FOR HIS COMMUNITY.

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO CHANGE THE LIFE OF A CHILD?

IF SO NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.

WE HAVE THE DETAILS.

> THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION, HEALTH, SAFETY AND EQUITY ALL THINGS ALL CHILDREN SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO BUT FOR AT RISK YOUTH GETTING THOSE RIGHTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED.

MEET THE PEOPLE HOPING TO CHANGE THAT.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'ME FROM CUSS' ST

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS.'

TONIGHT WE'RE TAKING AN IN DEPTH LOOK AT THE CONTEMPORARY STATE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, THE CHANGING NATURE OF JOBS, THE VANISHING MIDDLE CLASS.

WAGE DISPARITY AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY.

THIS IS OUR ONGOING REPORTING INITIATIVE CALLED CHASING THE DREAM.

POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

FIRST WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT A VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAM THE NATIONAL CARES MENTORING MOVEMENT A PROGRAM WITH A MESSAGE WITH A SIMPLE MESSAGE MENTORING CAN CHANGE LIVES.

BECOME A MENTOR.

HELP SECURE THE MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US, OUR CHILDREN, OUR BELOVED CHILDREN.

SO I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

I'M IN.

ARE YOU?

SINCE 2006 THE NATIONAL CARES MENTORING MOVEMENT HAS RECRUITED TRAINED AND CONNECTED MORE THAN 140,000 CARING MENTORS WITH MORE THAN 200,000 CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS AND YOUTH SERVING PROGRAMS IN 58 U.S. CITIES.

SUSAN TAYLOR IS THE FORMER EDITOR CHIEF OF 'ESSENCE' MAGAZINE AND THE FOUNDER OF THE NATIONAL CARES MENTORING PROGRAM.

JACK FORD SAT DOWN WITH HER TO ASK WHY THIS PROGRAM IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ALLOWING YOUNG UNDERSERVED CHILDREN TO REALIZE THEIR DREAMS.

I WALK THROUGH AIRPORTS OR DOWN THE STREETS AND READERS WILL COME UP AND SAY I LOVE THE MAGAZINE.

YOU'RE WRITING IN THE BOOKS.

THE MAGAZINE ITSELF CHANGED MY LIFE.

WE KNOW WE GO TO WORSHIP SERVICE AND THERE MAY BE ONE PERSON IN THE PULPIT AND NOT EVEN WORSHIP SERVICE ALONE, EVEN CONFERENCES.

THIS PERSON IS THIS DYNAMIC SPEAKER.

WE'RE TAKING NOTES AND SOMETHING IN US SHIFTS.

WHY CAN'T WE DO THAT WITH SCHOOLS.

WHY CAN'T WE DO THAT IN PLACES WHERE OUR CHILDREN ARE THERE IN GREAT NUMBERS AND REALLY NEED THAT KIND OF SUPPORT?

THAT GAVE RISE TO THE RISING WHICH IS A PROGRAM WHICH I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT.

I WANT TO SHOW OUR VIEWERS SOMETHING.

YOU HAD RECENTLY, YOUR GALA FUNDRAISING DID MARVELOUSLY WELL AND PART OF IT WAS ESSENTIALLY SORT OF TESTIFYING, IF YOU WILL, BY SOME PEOPLE, YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE BENEFITTED FROM THIS AND IT CAN BE SUCH A COMPELLING RESPONSE TO WHAT YOU'VE DONE.

TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT TWO OF THEM HERE.

I WANT TO COME OUT AND TALK WITH YOU ABOUT THEM.

I ALWAYS KNEW I WANTED TO DO WITH MORE WITH MY LIFE.

I DIDN'T WANT TO END UP IN PRISON OR IN A CASKET.

AT THE SAME TIME I WAS FEELING THIS WAY A NEW PROGRAM CAME INTO MY SCHOOL CALLED HORIZON.

THE PROGRAM AND PEOPLE WHO WORKED THERE SHIFTED MY ENERGY.

I LEARNED I WANTED TOO MUCH MORE MYSELF TO LET BAD ENERGY CORRUPT ME.

BEING AROUND SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE MEANT MANY THINGS INCLUDING WHAT IT MEANT TO BE A MAN.

[ APPLAUSE ]

MY NAME IS KYTIE AND I WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE HERE.

NONE OF YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO KNOW MY NAME OR HEAR MY VOICE.

I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE STREETS, PRISON OR DEAD.

THAT'S THE STORY OF TOO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE OF MY GENERATION.

AND IT COULD HAVE BEEN MY STORY AS WELL.

INSTEAD, I STAND BEFORE YOU AS A TEACHER, A MENTOR, AND A SURVIVOR.

[ APPLAUSE ]

SO YOU LOOK AT THOSE TWO YOUNG PEOPLE AND FIRST THING THEY SAY, IT WORKS.

IT CAN WORK AND THEY ARE EVIDENCE.

IT CAN WORK FOR SELF-ESTEEM, CULTURAL IDENTITY AND IT CAN WORK FOR BIGGER ISSUES SUCH AS POVERTY.

HOW SO?

WELL LOOK AT THE YOUNG MAN WHO JUST SPOKE.

HE DIDN'T HAVE ONE TO ONE MENTORING WITH US IN SCHOOL ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO AND IN THAT SCHOOL IN ONE ACADEMIC YEAR 30 YOUNG PEOPLE WERE SHOT.

CHAOS.

HE WAS PART OF THE GROUP WHERE MENTORING THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN IN THAT SCHOOL THROUGH GROUP MENTORING.

A THOUSAND STUDENTS MR.ING STUDENT BODY AS CHILDREN ARE SHIFT FROM SCHOOL TO SCHOOL.

IT'S CHAOS.

SIX EMPLOYEES.

WE HAVE PSYCHOLOGISTS AND FORMER TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS THAT RUN THE PROGRAM.

HE WAS PART OF THE GROUP WE WERE MENTORING.

YOU HEARD THE REST OF THAT, YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID?

HERE ARE MY GRADES TODAY.

HE HELD UP HIS REPORT CARD.

ALL As AND Bs.

WE'RE SHIFTING CONSCIOUSNESS.

WE'RE LETTING YOUNG PEOPLE KNOW THEY ARE INTELLIGENT.

THEY ARE NOT WHO THEY SEE THEMSELVES REPRESENTED AS ON THE NIGHTLY NEWS.

NO YOUNG PERSON OUT HERE IS TRYING TO MAKE TROUBLE, WHO HAS A GUN IN HIS OR HER POCKET OR TRYING TO ASSAULT SOMEBODY IF THEY HAVE A JOB AND SEE A WAY FORWARD.

WHAT WE'RE DOING IS SEEKING LIFE IN YOUNG PEOPLE.

HELPING THEM TO UNDERSTAND WHY ACADEMICS ARE IMPORTANT.

AND THAT THEY ARE INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO LEARN.

WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SCHOOLS THAT ARE JUST -- THEY ARE SUCH A GULF BETWEEN WHAT SCHOOLS IN POOR NEIGHBORHOODS HAVE AND THE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE IN WELL RESOURCED SCHOOLS AND WELL RESOURCED FAMILIES.

SO IN SCHOOLS LIKE WE'RE WORKING IN, IN HARLEM AND OTHER CITIES IN THE COUNTRY WHERE WE'RE PILOTING PROGRAMS WE HAVE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE COMPUTERS OR GREAT SCIENCE LABS OR HAVE BAND EQUIPMENT OR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES, TEACHERS WHO ARE OVERWHELMED AND NEED MORE SUPPORT AND A BUDGET THAT IS CUT EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

SO WE'RE SAYING WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS.

THE NATIONAL CARES MENTORING MOVEMENT IS A COMMUNITY MOBILIZATION MOVEMENT, GETTING THE COMMUNITY INVOLVED IN THE RESCUE AND ADVANCEMENT OF OUR YOUNG.

WE CAN FIX IT AND WE ARE.

CERTAINLY NOT TOO LATE.

MARVELOUS WORK BY YOU.

SO HAPPY YOU CAME IN AND CHATTED WITH US.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO CHAT WITH YOU.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

> AWARD-WINNING ACTOR, WRITER AND COMMUNITY ACTIVIST DANIEL BEADY HAS AN INCREDIBLE LIFE STORY.

AS THE SON OF A HEROIN DEALER WHO WAS IN AND OUT OF PRISON AT LEAST 06 TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF HIS LIFE, DANIEL LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPACT INCARCERATION HAS ON FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES.

HE OVERCAME THIS AND CHASED HIS OWN DREAM.

HIS LATEST PROJECT IN WHICH HE STARS AND CO-WROTE AND PRODUCED REFLECTS THE DIFFICULTIES MANY AFRICAN-AMERICANS FACE TODAY.

IN THIS GRIPPING FILM HE PLACE LANCE A REFORMED GANG LEADER RETURNING TO HARLEM AFTER SERVING A TEN YEAR PRISON SENTENCE AND FINDING HIMSELF UPABLE TO USE THE TECHNOLOGICAL SKILLS HE LEARNED IN JAIL.

FIRST HERE'S A PREVIEW OF 'CHAPTER AND VERSE.'

I'M LANCE ENGEL.

I WANT YOU TO CHECK WITH YOUR FIVE TAR GENERALS, HAVE THEM CHECK WITH THE OLDER GENTS.

HOW LONG YOU BEEN OUT OF THE JOINT.

A FEW WEEKS.

I GOT TWO COMPUTER CERTIFICATES.

I'LL WORK THE FIRST WEEK FOR FREE.

MAKE THE DELIVERIES.

WHAT DID YOU GO TO JAIL FOR?

THIS IS A REALLY POWERFUL FILM AND I THINK PARTICULARLY FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS IT'S GOING TO BE INCREDIBLY POWERFUL BECAUSE YOU SEE THE STORY OF, AS WE MENTIONED IN THE LEAD, THE GENTLEMAN LANCE COMING BACK FROM PRISON AND TRYING REINTEGRATE INTO SOCIETY BUT TOLD FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW.

WHY DID YOU GO IN THAT DIRECTION

WE WANTED TO TALE STORY OF A PORTRAYAL OF A BLACK MAN AND A BLACK MAN WHO WE DON'T HEAR FROM PERSONALLY A LOT.

WE HEAR ABOUT.

SO THIS IS A MAN THAT'S JUST GETTING OUT OF PRISON AS YOU SAID.

HE HAS CHANGED AND THE COMMUNITY AROUND HIM HAS CHANGED.

WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH HIS EYES SO WE CAN TRULY KNOW THAT'S RIGHT, THE HUMANITY, THE VULNERABILITY OF THIS BLACK MAN THAT WE THINK WE KNOW BUT IN MANY WAYS WE DON'T.

WE USUALLY ONLY HEAR AS PART OF STATISTICS AND NOT AS A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL HUMAN BEING.

ABSOLUTELY.

BECAUSE OF THE PLAGUE OF MASS INCARCERATION IN THIS COUNTRY, AND BECAUSE WHEN THESE MEN COME OUT OF PRISON, MEN AND WOMEN, THEY STILL HAVE DREAMS, THEY STILL HAVE HOPE, THEY STILL HAVE MANY YEARS OF LIFE.

WE DO NEED TO CREATE SPACE IN OUR SOCIETY TO SEE THEM IN THEIR FULL HUMANITY VERSUS BEING STATISTICS.

HOW DID YOU INCORPORATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL NARRATIVE

MY FATHER BECAUSE OF HIS HEROIN ADDICTION AND SELLING HAS BEEN IN AND OUT OF PRISON.

OLDER BROTHER ALSO IN AND OUT OF PRISON.

MY CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF THE FILM AS AN ACTIVIST IN THE BLACK PANTHERS SPENT TIME IN PRISON.

I DO PERFORMANCES IN PRISON.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I FEEL IN GENERAL IS THAT WE HAVE TO FIND WAYS TO HEAR FROM THE MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR SOCIETY, ESPECIALLY IN THESE URGENT TIMES AND SO MY OWN STORY CAUSES ME TO ADVOCATE FOR NARRATIVES THAT ALLOW US TO HEAR THOSE WHO ARE DISENFRANCHISED AND ON THE FRINGE OF SOCIETY HAVE A VOICE AND SPEAK.

WHEN YOU MENTION ABOUT HEARING PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST VULNERABLE IN SOCIETY CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE OUTREACH WORK YOU'VE BEEN DOING TO MAKE SURE THOSE VOICES ARE HEARD SFLUM.

ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO THROUGH A GRANT FROM THE KELLOGG FOUNDATION I STARTED A PROGRAM CALLED I DREAM THAT USES THE TOOL OF THE ARTS TO HELP CREATE A NEW GENERATION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE LEADERS FROM OUR MOST VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES.

THE IDEA IS PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION IS A PATH TO SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION.

SO MANY OF US INCLUDING THE CHARACTER LANCE FROM MY FILM INHERITED TRAUMA FROM RACE INEQUITY.

HOW CAN WE GET CLEAR ABOUT THE TRAUMA WE INHERITED AND THEN USE THE TOOLS THROUGH CREATIVITY TO IMAGINE WHAT WE WANT FOR OURSELVES PERSONALLY AND OUR COMMUNITIES AND THEN ENGAGING SOCIAL JUSTICE PROJECTS TO START MAKING THAT NEW NARRATIVE REAL.

AND POSSIBLY MORE FILM MAKERS IN THE MAKING.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO, GOING BACK TO THE FILM, THOUGH, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK MAKES IT SO PERSONAL, AND AS WE MENTIONED ALREADY THAT LANCE VERY MUCH A THREE-DIMENSIONAL PERSON.

AND WE GET TO WATCH HIS JOURNEY WITHOUT GIVING AWAY THE ENDING BUT HE'S ABLE TO FIND JOY AND HAPPINESS AND PURPOSE IN HIS LIFE AGAIN.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR ANYONE COMING OUT OF PARTICULARLY PRISON WHERE YOU SORT OF HAVE BEEN THROWN AWAY, TO BE ABLE TO REDISCOVER THAT IN THEIRSELVES AND LIVES.

I'M GAD YOU SAW THAT.

AS THE ACTOR PLAYING PETROLEUM AND EVEN AS WE WERE WRITING IT THAT WAS THE JOURNEY.

RIGHT.

THIS MAN WHO COME OUT, HE'S AFRAID.

HE'S CONFUSED.

HE'S AFRAID TO HOPE.

AND THEN THROUGH HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MAJOR CHARACTER --

AMAZING IN THE FILM.

AND A CHILDHOOD FRIEND WHO TURNED HIS LIFE AROUND SLOWLY ABLE TO TRUST.

IN THAT SPACE OF TRUST AND COMMUNITY SLOWLY ABLE TO HOPE AGAIN.

I THINK FOR A CHARACTER COMING OUT OF PRISON LITERALLY LIKE LANCE, US COMING OUT OF OUR OWN PRISONS OF THE VARIOUS THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT IN OUR LIVES OR EVEN US AS A COUNTRY NOW IN THIS URGENT MOMENT, FINDING OUR PLACE TO HOPE EVEN IN THE MIDST OF FEAR AND IN THE MIDST OF CONFUSION IS WHAT WE MUST ABSOLUTELY DO BECAUSE IF WE DON'T HAVE HOPE, IF WE DON'T FIND SOME WAY TO MAINTAIN VISION OF POSSIBILITY EVEN IN THE MIDST OF BREAKDOWN THEN WE LOSE.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO COME DOWN AND TELL BUS THE MOVIE.

WE'LL MAKE SURE AS MANY PEOPLE GET A CHANCE TO SEE THE FILM.

THANK YOU.

> A NEW INITIATIVE FROM NEW YORK CITY IS TAKE ON THE PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR LOW GRADUATION RATES HEAD ON WITH A LITTLE HELPING HAND.

THE NYC YOUTH MENTORING IN SHY A NEGATIVE HOPE TO REACH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM THE TOUGHEST NEIGHBORHOODS IN THE CITY.

THEY ARE BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN STUDENTS AND MEN TOWARDS.

COMPANIES LIKE HBO AND AMERICAN AIRLINES PLEDGING SUPPORT CITY ORGANIZATION, THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO HELP SHAPE STUDENTS VIEWS OF THEMSELVES SO THAT THEY CAN REALIZE THAT ANY FUTURE IS POSSIBLE.

JACK FORD SPOKE WITH PAULA GAVIN THE CHIEF SERVICE OFFICER AND TWO OTHERS A MENTOR/MENTOREE DUO WHICH BUILD MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS THAT BUILD FIRST GENERATION MENTORING.

WHAT'S THE IDEA BEHIND.

IT IN NEW YORK CITY THERE ARE 300,000 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND WHILE THE GRADUATION RATE HAS RISEN TO 70%, OUR CITY HAS SET A GOAL OF 80% AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN.

AND MENTORING IS ONE OF THE STRATEGIES THAT HAS PROVEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN COLLEGE AND IN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION.

SO WE DECIDED TO PULL ALL OUR CITY AGENCIES TOGETHER AND MAKE A PLAN TO DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE WITH MENTORING EXPERIENCES IN HIGH SCHOOL.

40,000.

MENTORING WHICH IS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A CARING ADULT AND YOUNG PERSON CAN REALLY HELP THE INDIVIDUAL TO CANE RESILIENCY SKILLS, PROBLEM FISCA SOLVING, COMMUNICATION.

THOSE ARE THE ELEMENTS THAT HELP YOUNG PEOPLE SUCCEED BOTH IN SCHOOL AND LIFE.

YOU'VE BEEN A SUCCESSFUL EXECUTIVE IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY AND YOU DECIDED YOU WANTED TO BECOME A PART OF THIS.

WHY?

LIKE PAULA SAID THERE ARE MANY CARING ADULTS OUT THERE.

MYSELF INCLUDED WHO WANT TO MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT AND USE THEIR EXPERIENCE TO DO THAT.

THE COLLEGE PROCESS CAN BE DAUNTING.

THAT'S SOMETHING I HAVE UNDER MY BELT.

LET ME UTILIZE THAT TO HELP SOMEBODY ELSE GET THERE.

EXPLAIN TO ME FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, I MENTOR.

IT'S A REMARKABLE PROGRAM.

WHAT IT DOES IT INTERVIEWS PEOPLE LIKE ME TO FIND OUT WHAT DRIVES US, WHAT MOTIVATES US AND WHAT'S OUR INTEREST AND MATCHES YOU WITH A STUDENT THAT HAS COMMON INTEREST.

IT STARTS TO BUILD A RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU WHEN YOU MEET THE PERSON YOU HAVE SOME COMMON GROUND TO GET STARTED ON.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ESPECIALLY WITH REGARD TO PREPARING JAY FOR COLLEGE.

THE REMARKABLE PART OF THE PROGRAM BUT REALLY MENTORING SPECIFICALLY THERE'S A WHOLE DISCOVERY PROCESS WHERE YOU MEET THIS PERSON AND YOU START TO UNDER WHAT THEIR STRENGTHS ARE.

WHEN YOU FIND THOSE STRENGTHS YOU SAY OKAY HERE'S WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY GOT TACKLED AND HERE'S WHAT'S MISSING.

HERE'S HOW I CAN HELP YOU.

FOR THE COLLEGE PROCESS WE LOOKED AT HER GRADE, WHAT HER S.A.T.s LOOK LIKE, DO WE NEED TO SIGN UP FOR S.A.T. COURSES TOGETHER, DO WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE APPLICATION PROCESS.

JUST KIND OF DISSECTING THE ENTIRE PROCESS AND DIVIDING AND CONQUERING AND COMING TOGETHER WHERE WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER.

HOW HELPFUL HAS IT BEEN FOR YOU

PRETTY HELPFUL.

IT'S BIZARRE I'M A FIRST GENERATION MY MOM DOESN'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON THAT MUCH.

WHEN I KNEW BIANCA WENT THROUGH THE COLLEGE PROCESS THAT'S GREAT, I HAVE HELP.

PEOPLE WATCHING THIS, I WOULD LIKE TO GET INVOLVED EITHER AS A MENTOR OR I KNOW SOMEBODY WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM COUPLING UP WITH A MENTOR.

WHERE DO THEY FIND THE INFORMATION?

NEW DON'T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

YOU JUST NEED TO CARE.

ANYONE WHO HAS AND DEHAS A DESIRE TO HELP OUR CITY WHICH IT DOES, HELP THEMSELVES TO GROW CAN GO TO OUR WEBSITE, NYC.GOV/SERVICE AND SEARCH FOR MENTORING OPPORTUNITIES AND WE HAVE DOZENS OF OPPORTUNITIES OF ALL TYPES.

ANYBODY WHO IS A YOUNG PERSON WE WOULD ADVISE THEM TO TALK TO THEIR HIGH SCHOOL AND WE'RE PUTTING MANY PROGRAMS IN NEW HIGH SCHOOLS AND DIFFERENT HIGH SCHOOLS PARTICULARLY IN THE POOREST COMMUNITIES.

I DO WANT TO EMPHASIZE ALL PEOPLE BRING SO MUCH.

THEY HAVE GONE THROUGH LIFE AND HAVE CONQUERED THOSE CHALLENGES AND WE JUST WANT TO BE OPEN TO ANYONE WHO HAS THE TIME AND WHO REALLY CARES AND WE KNOW THEY CAN DO IT.

IF ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS CAME UP TO YOU, I'VE HEARD YOU'VE BEEN DOING THIS MENTORING THING AND I'M THINKING OF DOING IT MYSELF, WHUT SAY?

GO FOR IT.

MY FRIEND IN DIFFERENT SCHOOLS HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY.

YEAH I JUST FINISHED MOST OF MY COLLEGE PROCESS.

WAIT WHAT?

I HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED.

IT'S KIND OF NICE TO HAVE A MENTOR.

SO IT'S NICE TO SEE THAT I HAVE A MENTOR THAT'S THERE.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

WHAT DO YOU GET FROM THE RELATIONSHIP

HYPER REWARDING.

I GET SOMEBODY, I GET TO LEARN ABOUT SOMEBODY WHO IS A DIFFERENT AGE THAN MYSELF HORKS IS GOING THROUGH THINGS IN A DIFFERENT WAY THAN I DID BUT SHE GIVES ME BACK SO MUCH.

VERY REWARDING PROCESS AND I HOPE I GET TO DON'T SEE HER GROW AND EXCEL AND THERE'S NOTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN WATCHING SOMEBODY GROW.

A GREAT PROGRAM.

WONDERFUL FOR YOU TO BE A CHAMPION FOR THIS YOUNG LADY AND TO HELP HER AND YOU ARE DOING A WONDERFUL JOB WORKING WITH HER AND I KNOW WHEREVER YOU END UP IN COLLEGE YOU'LL DO MARVELOUS.

GOOD LUCK TO YOU.

THANK YOU.

> THANK YOU.

> FOR SOME HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS COLLECTING THEIR DIPLOMA ON GRADUATION DAY MEANS OVERCOMING HOMEWORK AND FINAL EXAMS.

POVERTY AND INSTABILITY AT HOME CAN DERAIL STUDENTS FROM REACHING ACADEMIC SUCCESS.

THE NONPROFIT CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND FOR NEW YORK ADVOCATES CHILDREN'S RIGHTS TO EDUCATION, SAFETY AND EQUITY.

EACH YEAR THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM RECOGNIZES A HANDFUL OF STUDENTS WHO HAVE OVERCOME TREMENDOUS OBSTACLES.

ANDREA CAUGHT UP WITH THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S DEFENSE OF NEW YORK AND ONE OF THE SCHOLARS WHO HAS BEATEN THE ODDS.

FIRST SHE HAD A CHANCE TO ATTEND THE ORGANIZE'S GALA AND SPEAK WITH ORGANIZERS ABOUT ADVOCATING FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES.

HOW DID THIS BECOME SUCH AN ISSUE FOR YOU?

I GREW UP IN A SEGREGATED SMALL SOUTHERN TOWN THAT TOLD BLACK CHILDREN WE COULDN'T DO ANYTHING OR BE ANYTHING AND I HATE ANY CHILD NOT HAVING A FAIR SHOT IN LIFE.

I COULD HAVE FALLEN THROUGH THE CRACKS BUT THANK GOODNESS I HAD A GOOD FAMILY AND THERE WERE ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS AROUND TO ASSIST MY GROWTH AND THAT'S WHAT THIS ORGANIZATION DOES.

IT SORT OF MAKES SURE CHILDREN KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE AND THAT THERE SHEEP FOR THEM.

I GREW UP IN THE INNER-CITY IN THE BRONX.

I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE LIKE TO BE RAISED IN A SINGLE FAMILY HOME AND ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS AND BEING ABLE TO PAY IT FORWARD.

THERE'S A GROUCH INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL AND THEY ARE RECOGNIZING THOSE WHO ARE.

THESE CHILDREN ARE SO AMAZING.

THEY ARE MIND BLOWING.

THEY HAVE SUCH -- SOME OF THEM HAVE SUCH HARD LIVES AND SO MANY THINGS TO OVERCOME AND THEY STILL MANAGE TO DO THAT AND DO WELL IN SCHOOL AND I THINK THOSE ARE THE KIND OF PEOPLE THAT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED.

JOINING ME NOW IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND NEW YORK, SAMANTHA LEVINE AND ONE OF THE SCHOLARS WHO HAD BEATEN THE ODDS.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE.

SO CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND AND BEAT THE ODDS PROVIDES A HOLISTIC APPROACH.

THERE'S THE SCHOLARSHIP MONEY BUT ALSO ONGOING MENTORSHIP AND SUPPORT.

WHY IS THAT SUCH AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE EQUATION?

THE PROGRAM SPECIFICALLY HAS TWO DIFFERENT COMPONENTS.

ONE WE PROVIDE ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL READINESS PROGRAMMING FOR STUDENTS TO HELP THEM THINK ABOUT APPLYING TO COLLEGE, TO HELP THEM THINK ABOUT THE BEST WAYS TO GET FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE, WHY THEY MIGHT WANT TO GO AWAY TO SCHOOL AND HELP THEM PREPARE FOR SCHOOL.

AT THE SAME TIME WE HAVE A SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM WHICH GIVES $10,000 SCHOLARSHIPS TO FIVE STUDENTS EACH YEAR TO STUDENTS WHO HAVE AS YOU SORT OF JUST SAID OVERCOME INCREDIBLE ODDS TO EXCEL ACADEMICALLY, GIVE BACK TO THEIR CHUNTS AND SHINE AS A POSITIVE SUPPORT FOR THEIR PEERS.

AND YOU'RE ONE OF THE STUDENTS.

GROWING UP YOUR FATHER TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T HAVE VALUE, THAT YOU WEREN'T GOING TO AMOUNT TO ANYTHING, BUT IN YOUR SPEECH WHEN YOU WERE HONORED AT THE GALA YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO BE THE KID FROM THE BRONX THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

RIGHT.

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT DRIVE?

HONESTLY MY DRIVE ORIGINATED FROM MY MOM.

SHE WAS THE MOST POSITIVE PERSON IN MY LIFE.

WHEN SHE PASSED AWAY AND I WAS ABOUT 12 AT THAT TIME, YOU KNOW, MY WHOLE LIFE JUST TOOK A DIFFERENT TURN.

I DIDN'T HAVE THAT PERSON WHO CONSTANTLY PUSHED NOTICE GO TO THE RIGHT PATH.

SHE WAS THE ONE WHO KEPT ME ON THE RIGHT TRACK AND AFTER LOSING HER I LOST MY SENSE OF DIRECTION.

AND, YOU KNOW, AS TIME PROGRESSED I REALIZED I'M HER SON.

YOU KNOW.

THIS WAS A VERY SPECIAL WOMAN WHO LEFT US.

AND IF I WASN'T GOING TO CONTINUE HER LEGACY AND IF MY SISTERS WEREN'T GOING TO CONTINUE HER LE GA CIRCUMSTANCE WHO WAS?

SO THAT'S WHAT KEPT ME GOING, KNOWING THAT I AM MY MOM'S SON AND THAT'S WHAT I ESSENTIALLY GOT FROM HER, HER POSITIVITY, HER DRIVE, HER ABILITY TO FLIP OVER EVERYTHING AND JUST SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT I CAN ACTUALLY COME OUT AND EXCEL.

WHAT HAS SOME OF THE OTHER BEAT THE ODDS SCHOLARS GONE ON TO EXCEL IN?

THEY WENT ON TO LAW SCHOOL.

SOME WENT ON TO JOURNALISM.

SOME ARE IN DIRECT SERVICE CAPACITY.

THEY'VE GONE ON TO EXCEL AND PROVIDE INSPIRATION AND OPPORTUNITY FOR OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE WHICH IS SUCH AN FLY BALL REWARD TO SEE FROM THESE YOUNG PEOPLE.

SO WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE GOING THROUGH SIMILAR HARDSHIP.

I WOULD SAY PERCEPTION.

IF YOU'RE PERCEIVING YOUR REALITY IN A NEGATIVE WAY, THEN YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO GO FAR IN LIFE BECAUSE, YES, I KNOW IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE.

AT THE SAME TIME WE CAN'T DISMISS OUR PROBLEMS AND THEY WILL ALWAYS THEREABOUT NO MATTER WHAT WE DO SOMETIMES.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEM.

AT THE SAME TIME YOU HAVE TO QUESTION WHY IT'S GOING ON PUP HAVE TO TAKE ACTION.

HOW CAN I HELP MY SITUATION GET BETTER.

AND, YOU KNOW, IF YOU DON'T THINK POSITIVE YOU'LL NEVER REALIZE HOW FAR YOU CAN EVENTUALLY COME.

YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO FULLY MAXIMIZE YOUR POTENTIAL.

THAT'S WHY EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO THINK POSITIVE AND BE PERSISTENT AT IT AS WELL.

I ALSO SAY TO THE STUDENTS WHO HAVE SUFFERED FROM THE SAME OBSTACLES AS ME, FIND PASSION.

THAT'S ONE WAY TO STAY POSITIVE.

MY PASSION WAS BASKETBALL.

I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT WHENEVER I WAS IN A BAD MOOD I WOULD PERFORM HORRIBLY AND I HATED PERFORMING HORRIBLY IN A BASKETBALL GAME.

THAT'S WHAT KEPT ME GOING.

EVEN IF IT'S THE SMALLEST PASSION LIKE READING A BOOK, WHATEVER SIRKTS FINDING A PASSION WILL KEEP YOU ON THE RIGHT TRACK AND KEEP YOU POSITIVE.

SO, YEAH.

THANKS BOTH FOR BEING HERE AND I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW YOU TO CHANGE THE WORLD.

THANK YOU.

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MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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