AdvanceMe is a Gary,IN based-project created to be the light at the end of the tunnel for children of single-parents by fighting stagnation.

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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

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Date Started

May 30, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

In 1994, I was born to my parents, but my mother raised me on her own. This time of my life, where I was most vulnerable and in need of mentorship and direction, it seems that there was no one there to steer me. AdvanceMe is created for that person who sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but has no guidance on dealing with the obstacles that the tunnel presents. AdvanceMe is based out of Gary, IN and the timeframe for its launch couldn't be any better than now. Gary was once known as "Steel City." However, when steel mills began to close, that eliminated jobs, and in-turn caused the once bustling-city to decline. Because of Gary's condition, many people have given up on youth and what life the city still has to offer. AdvanceMe will be an innovate way to embrace this forsaken generation by aiming to brighten and reroute the direction for these children with tools for advancement.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In brutal honesty, many residents of Gary, IN are financially insecure. Early teenagers are not working out of want but of necessity for the household. Since their struggle prevails after graduation, they often skip college and work at minimum wage when they are so full of potential. This has become the new status quo. AdvanceME provides not only life-applicable access to advancing, but practical avenues to equip youth to triumph over trials.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The initial plan is to create a hub for children of single parents to come and brush shoulders with peers to yield mutual success and advancement. This gathering place will host monthly in-house meetings to help keep accountability for those within the AdvanceMe program, even as they are monitored on a one-on-one basis. The meetings will focus on various areas such as: self-enhancement, personal branding, and overcoming the void of an absent parent. Addressing these areas will help the young people to find value in making wise choices in their present circumstances and to look for ways to advance themselves further in life. As a result, they will be able to birth ideas and contributions to the community, where they can become a center of influence and advancement for their peers, changing the climate of the city. I will also incorporate an aspect of mentoring to help the youth see that there are people who have been in their shoes, yet they chose not to stay there. Full completion of the program leads to eligibility for a scholarship. Furthermore, I desire to create an online network to host webinars and live chats, open to other youth, to promote advancing self and not settling.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When a person expresses interest in AdvanceMe, it is my goal for myself or a team member to personally embrace them and do a 30 minute initial-conversation. This conversation will be an opportunity for leadership to learn of our new member, clarify misconceptions, and explain the expectation from the individual, as we seek results. From there, the new member would become apart of the class of scholars and would be expected to participate in our plenary sessions, meetings with mentors, social activities, and on our social network/app. As the member develops, it is expected of them to create an event that could stimulate advancement within their neighborhood or among their peers. Upon maturation in the program, leadership is evaluating the attendance, development, and engagement of the member in the AdvanceMe program to land them the scholarship at the end of their AdvanceMe tenure.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

My project targets children of single parents and aims to advance them as individuals. This is unique compared to other programs because it serves a group of individuals who are often overlooked and not invested. There are organizations that offer mentorship, but there are not any of these services offered in Gary, IN. I desire to be the change agent who offers tools for advancement, leadership and social development, and scholarships catered to advancing underprivileged youth, who are mistakenly forsaken. Activating the power in untapped potential, will generate the turnaround for Gary, IN.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

I plan to know my project is making a difference by the leadership staying active and consistent in the lives of the AdvanceMe participants, seeing results such as GPA increases and positive social activity. I am currently the youth director at my church and I have a direct impact on mentoring many voices of the next generation. However, I recognize a deeper need for the individuals to advance and reach new heights of success, as individuals. This is why I plan to help them each create their personal brand and

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

To take my project to the next level I would like to start chapters of AdvanceMe in other desolate cities, whose youth need stimulation and direction toward advancement. I think of cities that are not often thought of like Americus, GA and McCool, MS, whose youth could easily be overlooked, because their hometown is not in the headlines. However, AdvanceMe is for those who are not likely to be seen but to advance them to headliner status. In the same way that I turned my obstacles into a platform to push me to be the overachiever I am today, I want to open the door for the same opportunity for others. Lastly, I desire my next campaign to expand and embrace the single parents, so that they can become a support group that advances each other.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I have contacted a group of friends who support the vision of AdvanceMe. However, we are still in need of resources to make my vision a reality. With a mayor who fully supports revitalization and efforts to bring life to the city of Gary, it is possible that there could be a donation of space to host the monthly meetings. Yet, there is still a need for funding to develop a website that can be used as a social network for the AdvanceMe community to communicate and attend webinars or online classes. Furthermore, funding will be needed to purchase session materials, food, cover speaker honorariums, transportation for the students, and a centralized office phone. I would greatly appreciate any contribution that could launch my vision forward.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

A changemaker who inspired me was Yasmine, the creator of ScholarCHIPS. Her organization provides scholarships and mentoring to children of incarcerated parents. Upon finding her program and seeing the target another underrepresented community, gave me the idea of future partnership. Together, we can unite as changemakers by me helping her participants dealing with the absence of a parent and how to embrace them-not resent them-after being released from prison. In turn, Yasmine could help sharpen my student’s leadership skills, preparing them for fresh opportunities. I am even reminded of my best friend Chris, who is a youth pastor in Gary. When I told him of AdvanceMe, his face lit up because he has dealt with the void of having an absent father. Not only did he see a need for it in our community, but he acknowledged that it was desperately needed-as he meets with this region’s youth on a weekly basis, . Chris’ s experience and his current position adds value to AdvanceMe, as he can offer a rich mentorship and help empower the student to make a difference. Lastly, I am very open to learning other approaches to stay innovative and peak the interest of the AdvaneME students.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


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Great Job, I appreciate your work!

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