BENEFITING: America Needs You
ORGANIZER: America Needs You
Mileage Tracker: 15
My dad is about 33 years old in this picture, the same age I am now. I am 8. We are in our third year in America. My dad is in the midst of his graduate school studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. My mother, at the age of 30, has also entered LSU as a college freshman with 18-year olds.
We are in front of the Louisiana State Capitol building. My dad is just about to run The Baton Rouge Half-Marathon. He has not trained. My mother and I will see him roughly 4.5 hours later, after he has shed most of the clothing you see in the picture and after we have been worried for some time because so many others have already finished the race. He had no idea how difficult the race would be but he plunged in anyway. And he finished.
Running the journey is an easy metaphor but one that's been true for so many others who are new to America or first in their family to break barriers. That is why I feel so privileged to work with such inspiring Fellows, volunteers, staff, board members, and partners at New York York Needs You and New Jersey Needs You (NYNY & NJNY).
Our nonprofit mission at NYNY and NJNY is to fight for economic mobility by helping low-income students, who are first in their family to attend college or community college, to graduate and succeed in their chosen careers. We provide intensive 1-on-1 mentoring every other Saturday over a 2-year period, financial support, and access to internships and career exposure so that our students can achieve their full potential.
While the US has made a lot of progress in getting students into college, graduating from college and entering into a career has never been harder. The national college drop out rate is now higher than the high school drop out rate. Only 11% of first generation college students graduate. And for these fortunate few, even a college degree is not enough. Over half of college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed or underemployed.
My friend and founder of New York Needs You, Robert Reffkin, made a pledge 5 years ago to run 50 marathons in all 50 states to raise $1 million to benefit organizations that help young people realize their dreams because he received similar help along the way. Robert has almost raised the full amount by running 49 marathons. The New York City Marathon on November 4th will be his 50th. We are fielding a team of runners to join Robert in his amazing feat for our organization.
Melissa Kinckle, a board member and one of our runners, was hit by a taxi and injured while running. She is not able to run the marathon. So as of about a week ago, I have volunteered to run in her place since I am a recreational runner (and perhaps a bit foolish). And like my father, I may not have the best physical preparation. But I have had so many opportunities in life that he could only dream of and help along the way from so many others to ease my path. So as I continue my dad's run 25 year later, I know I didn't get here on my own and that I am not just running for myself.
I would appreciate your encouragement to help me finish this race! Please also consider supporting the mission of NYNY and NJNY. Let's keep passing the baton forward.