(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
What an incredible year we have experienced here at LEAP Foundation DC. From our mentees’ educational pursuits to our successful annual toy drive, we have been meeting our mission to bridge the gap between hope and achievement for so many in the Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas. As we focus on the year ahead, we feel that 2018 should not come to a close without sharing with you, our friends and supporters, the many ways in which you have helped make a difference in the lives of several youth who otherwise may have been forgotten. Thank you for joining us in our mission and, as we reflect on the past year, we become even more excited to see what we can accomplish in 2019.
We supported two incredible young scholars this year who were recognized with LEAP Foundation DC scholarships. The first, Jamaru Williams, a student at Xaverian High School, was provided with a $1,000 scholarship in support of his journey abroad to nurture his interests in bioethics, psychology, astrophysics, philosophy, poetry, art, literature and photography. Jamaru was fortunate to be chosen to participate in his school’s Bruges, Belgium exchange program.
In December, youth mentee Rashard Barnes received the second annual Eleanor Holmes Norton Scholarship. Rashard is committed to being an example of hope both to his younger siblings and through his participation in his church’s homeless outreach program. The $1,000 scholarship is in support of Rashard’s plans to pursue a degree in sports management upon graduation from KIPP DC College Preparatory.
The 2018 10th Annual Toy Drive offered support to two families of the Latino Student Fund who have shown an incredible amount of dedication to the tutoring programs offered there. For the first eight years of the holiday program, LEAP Foundation DC provided gifts for up to 250 recipients each year and for the past two years, the nonprofit decided to take a more focused approach. The Martinez Abrego and Torres-Rivas families were invited to the LEAP Christmas party, where they enjoyed the holiday festivities, including, of course, plenty of gift giving.
It’s been four years since LEAP started its Suited for Success program, which is designed to teach young men the proper way to dress for things like job and college interviews, as well as assist in the preparation of college applications and serve as a sounding board for the hardships of growing up in the modern world. Seven young men participated in this year’s Suited for Success program at Jos. A. Banks, including Rashard Barnes, Jaden, Lucas-Rethers Ford, Kevin Akers, Rhajzon Rankins, Drai Faulk, Mekhi Turner and Craig Jones.