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Young Voices Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 1, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
“Young Voices is entering its second decade as a dynamic organization empowering low-income youth to achieve dramatically in high school, gain admissions to competitive colleges, and graduate on time. Many of its students are immigrants, coming to the United States speaking little English. But against all socioeconomic odds, they complete high school, receive scholarships to institutions including Brown, Brandeis, Bentley, Northeastern, and Tufts, and graduate in four years, in an era in which graduation rates are measured in six years,” says Karen Feldman, Young Voices’ founder and director.

In five locations throughout Rhode Island, youth develop skills in public speaking, networking, policy analysis, critical thinking, and relating to high-level business and community leaders. They work with school principals, superintendents, the education commissioner, mayors, and corporate leaders. They testify at the State House and present to corporate CEOs.

“Our track record speaks for itself,” says Karen. “Our data shows that 100% of the students in our program last year all went directly into a four-year college. Our youth successfully graduate college and get great jobs.”

A 2013 study conducted by a class in the Department of Global Studies at Providence College found that, in 2011 and 2012, 100% of Young Voices participants graduated from high school in four years, compared with 77% of their peers statewide.

The impact of the program on individual youth is as important as the statistics. “My success can be traced back to the extraordinary experience I had in Young Voices, and the foundation of skills that I gained. Young Voices is bridging the gap of opportunity for students with skills that will last a lifetime,” explains Dayo Owoyemi, a Young Voices alum who now works at Google.

“At the same time that we help youth cross the threshold to becoming responsible adults, Young Voices itself is crossing a threshold into maturity as an organization. As we enter our second decade, we want to ensure Young Voices will continue to empower youth to fulfill their potential for generations to come”, Karen says, adding, “This endowment is going to secure our sustainability and enable us to advance confidently into the future.”
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