I always knew that I wanted to give back to the world but I never knew exactly how I would do it. Last year, on one September morning, I received an email about an internship that would allow me to inspire youth in urban communities by way of art and creativity. As a Camden native with a passion for art, I knew that this was it! This was how I was going to give back. Never did I think that the organization that will have launched me into a space of inspiration, hope and possibility will have changed my life forever.
The Future Project is the third largest growing educational non-profit in the country! Standing at the crossroad of education reformation and social justice, The Future Project’s mission is to transform each and every one of our public schools into spaces of inspiration and possibility! With the help of a Dream Director, students are reignited with passion and excitement for their futures. Students create what we call Future Projects which range anywhere from school clubs to national campaigns, and beyond. I have had the privilege of working with The Future Project for a year now in one of Newark’s public schools, Malcolm X Shabazz High School. As I took on the role of a Dream Navigator, I was responsible for meeting with dreamers every day to discuss what they wanted to change in their schools and their communities, and to create plans of action! In just a few months, Shabazz High School became Possibility High. Students were eager to manifest their dreams and hope was alive! Little did I know that as I was coaching students on how to create and execute their Future Projects, I too was being transformed.
The Future Project has a way of showing you that anything really is possible! Dreams do come true! The Future Project measures things like grit, creativity and hope! These are the things that are going to change our young people. At The Future Project, we believe that inspiration is the key to changing not only our schools and cities but, the entire world! I find it so important for young people, especially in urban communities, to realize their potential at a young age so that they never settle for less, so that they never stop chasing their dreams, and so that they can be icons in the way our world operates!
This fall, The Future Project will be going national, reaching two new cities: Detroit and San Francisco, on top of cities we have already taken on: Newark, New Haven, Washington D.C. and New York! With the national and even international demand for The Future Project, there is no doubt that this movement will make a worldwide impact on the way we think and on what we, as a society, has accepted as truth. We are not bound by the unspoken restrictions imposed onto us by our society, by our politicians, by our complacent high school guidance counselors, or even by our family and friends. As a country, America has progressed to an era of technological advancement and with that, a boost in creative and entrepreneurial opportunities for our young people! For so long, a university degree has measured equally to a promising and successful future. With only 27% of our population currently employed in fields corresponding to their degrees and areas of study, one can’t help but question, “Is the average $29,400 student debt burdening our once aspirational, optimistic college students worth it?” There has to be another way. I am in no way, suggesting that a college education shouldn’t be considered when exploring the potential of the future of our young people; however, there are endless opportunities and alternative routes that will guarantee a successful and more importantly, a happy future for our future leaders. Our young people need The Future Project and they need Dream Directors so that they can be reminded that all those late night epiphanies about their potential to create change, to start their own businesses, to initiate a movement, to invent and modify- those are real!
Dreams are what have shaped our country and our culture. Malcolm X, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Kanye West along with several other brilliant minds who have made a significant impact on the way we live our daily lives, all without a college degree! All these superhumans have three things in common: a passion, a dream, and a vision. That is what The Future Project challenges others to find it in themselves. Let’s change our world. Let’s make our dreams a reality. Let’s dream with our eyes open. The time is now. Let’s start with Rutgers.
If you’d like to know more, inspiration is available at TheFutureProject.org and Dream.org!