Earlier in the semester, I had the privilege of attending the Lights On Afterschool! Breakfast of Champions at the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston. There was a table reserved for RIC Youth Development. There were several people that I knew, including Dr. McKamey. There was also a girl named Jacqueline who was a YDEV alum. It was nice to get a chance to talk to someone who had graduated from the program and was out in the field trying to start her own non-profit organization.
The opening remarks were given by two individuals who work for United Way of Rhode Island, who put on the breakfast along with Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance (RIASPA). United Way works to bring the people of Rhode Island together to create positive change in the state.
The second speaker was Arnell Milhouse, founder of the program IntraCity Geeks. The mission of this organization, according to their website (http://intracitygeeks.org/), is “to teach everyone in urban environments coding and entrepreneurship.” He spoke about his childhood, which started out very difficult, but turned around when he moved to Cape Cod. He excelled in his schooling and decided to start the organization IntraCity Geeks to give youth the same opportunities he was lucky enough to have. This interview provides a little more background on Mr. Milhouse and his ideas behind the creation of IntraCity Geeks. This video from their website provides a brief introduction to the organization.
The keynote speaker was Mr. Jonathan Kozol. I was very excited to hear him speak, since I read excerpts from his book Amazing Grace in my FNED 346 class last semester. He was an amazing speaker and brought up several great points regarding our education system. He also talked about his past and the work he has done throughout his years. Partway through his talk, he mentioned that one of the students he wrote about years ago in Amazing Grace, who was in first grade at the time, was in the audience today. I looked around when he asked where Jackie was sitting, and was shocked to find out that it was the YDEV alum Jacqueline that I had met earlier and was sitting across the table from. I feel so lucky to be a part of a program with individuals who have overcome hardships and continued on to do amazing things with their lives.I hope that I will get a chance to see Mr. Kozol and Mr. Milhouse speak again sometime, and I would love to attend this event next year if I can!