“It was the nicest gift given to me by a student,” shared the veteran youth worker across the table. “It touched me deeply.”
As you probably assume, UrbanPromise staff don’t do this work for the money or stock options. Our rewards are quantified in brief moments of joy—the thrill of watching a teen become a community leader, a fifth-grader mastering their times tables, a former high school drop-out accepted into college, or an unexpected thank-you from a student. These are the “bonuses” of our work.
“Amayah was one of the first students attending my North Camden after school program,” reminisced director Albert Vega. “Twelve years later, she’s still involved. Now she’s an exceptional teen leader.”
But last month, as the summer program was ending, Amayah asked if she could speak with Albert. After sitting down, she pulled a crumpled letter out of her pocket and began to read:
Thank you for being the most genuine person in my life. You’ve never failed me ever…Thank you for making Christmas happen when my parents couldn’t…. thank you for showing up to my 7th birthday party when no one else came…thank you for always making my life enjoyable through the rough times over the years….I am forever grateful for you….
Albert sat in silence, pondering the heartfelt words. Then, Amayah pulled something out of a shopping bag and placed it on his lap. “It’s for you,” she smiled. “It’s a t-shirt I made.” As Albert unfolded the material, he couldn’t help but notice the bold, stenciled, purple letters:
“Everyone needs an Albert!”
“I want him to remember me after I graduate this year,” Amayah shared. “I just wish everyone had someone like Albert in their life. Everybody needs someone who doesn’t forget them.”
Amayah captures what every youth development expert and child psychologist confirms. Youth—especially those growing up in under-resourced communities—who succeed academically and professionally can often point to a person who took a genuine interest in their lives. A coach, a teacher, a pastor, a mentor, a grandparent, a parent….
In his landmark book, “Beating the Odds: How Poor Kids Get to College,” educator Art Levine concludes that having caring adults in a youth’s life— “who provide a sense future”—can be the determining factor of whether a teen succeeds. Levine confirms this assumption with over 24 interviews from students growing up in Boston’s inner city, kids who beat the odds and were accepted into Harvard, MIT, and Boston College.
All those students had an Albert in their life. And it’s because of your generosity that Amayah had an Albert for her, too.
You make this possible! It’s your support that keeps our staff working and keeps the doors open year after year for kids like Amayah.
I hope you’ll help UrbanPromise continue to go the extra mile for young people like Amayah.
Grateful for committed staff and partners like you—
President & Founder
P.S. Amayah has joined the ROTC at her high school. She’s planning to serve in the Air Force before going to college for business.