YOUR GIVING MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Our Elevate staff has a true passion for what they do. To be able to impact the future of the South Bronx everyday and give hope and value to some really great teenagers is truly rewarding. So as the year wraps up, we wanted to share with you one of many great stories of the lives you are changing.
When we first met Elvis, he was on a path that seemed hopeless. No longer believing in himself, school was more a way to pass the time than any hope for a future. Through Elevate New York his eyes and heart were opened to possibilities he never thought were meant for him.
How Elevate New York changed my life: Elvis' Story
Everything started my sophomore year of high school, before Elevate New York became a program at Banana Kelly High School. Kevin Singleton would always come to our school in the South Bronx to speak with the students and hang out. One day he came with a special guest by the name of Kevin McGovern, a very successful entrepreneur. I remember that day like it was yesterday, they were going to speak in two classes, but I was not in any of those classes. I skipped one of my classes just to take part in one of those talks. Kevin McGovern shared the story of his life and all the obstacles he had overcome. One thing he stated that has stuck with me forever was “You can achieve the impossible; you have to break it into possible steps.”
During my time in the Elevate classroom, I had the opportunity to learn many life changing skills for success. One of those skills was “Responsibility.” In the classroom this was very important; because the seven character qualities we learned from Kevin Singleton were the skills we taught fourth and fifth graders once a week. So our responsibly was building a relationship with these younger students and letting them know that anything in life is possible if you work hard for it. Elevate New York took me out of the Bronx and opened my eyes to many things. From being mentored by employees from Instinet to having dinner with new Elevate students.
Now after everything I've learned from Elevate New York, and all the great stories told by those special guests that visited our classroom in the South Bronx, I can now say that it's ok to fail. Failing should not stop you from your goal; it should encourage you to work harder on what you want in life. I am now in college majoring in Sport Management with a concentration in Sport Facility and Event Management and one semester away from graduating. Elevate has also helped me build up confidence to take on leadership roles like in school clubs where I help manage the New York City Marathon among other things. I would like to thank all the teachers, volunteers, and donors for making Elevate New York a life changing program. It has truly changed my life.
Elvis is a natural leader who just needed someone to see him and value him and now his life will never be the same. You can be this difference for countless other students in 2016. Donate today and stretch this giving season throughout the whole of the year.
Last month, five of our Elevate students -Erik, Wendy, Luis, Destiny and Jasmine – and walked across the graduation stage and received their high school diplomas. We could not be more proud of everything they have all accomplished so far, and can’t wait to see how bright their futures shine.
“Now that I’ve graduated I feel great! What pushed me to graduate was the people who were looking forward to seeing me walk across that stage. I’m going to be attending Laguardia Community College in the fall. My goals are to achieve success and pursue an acting career.” – Erik
Congratulations to all of the graduates and we wish you all the best in this next exciting stage of your lives!
Seniors and Graduates Cookout at Donnelly Mechanical
To celebrate our 2015 seniors and graduates, our newest partner Donnelly Mechanical hosted our 2015 Seniors & Graduates cookout at their plant in Queens Village. Donnelly Mechanical works with air conditioning, mechanical construction and energy services across New York City. Dan Donnelly and his team did a great job educating our students on the HVAC business and even offered them internship opportunities with the company.
It was a very fun and special night for our students to remember their Elevate experience as well as looking forward to their bright and exciting futures. Thank you to Donnelly Mechanical for hosting us and giving our students a chance to be a part of your industry.
Emmanuel Jacobo: From the Bronx to the Barclays
Earlier this month, Emmanuel Jacobo visited the Elevate New York classroom to speak with our students about his journey from “the Bronx to the Barclays Center.”
Emmanuel is the director of ticket sales at the Barclays Center for the New York Islanders. He shared his experience as a young Dominican man who was born and raised in the Bronx with dreams of becoming an NBA star. After an injury set him back, he realigned his goals, utilized his skill set and worked hard to instead become a huge part of the NY sporting industry. His positive vision, determination and strong work ethic are what led him to success, and his story strongly resonated with all of our students who now look up to him as a role model.
Emmanuel taught our students that not only do they need to survive in this world, but that you can also thrive and succeed. “Things are going to go wrong. When it does, that’s how you find out who you really are.”
He also noted that “your environment and complexion doesn’t define you. You define you.”
The impact that Emmanuel had on our class was powerful, and student Jonathan Hernandez said to him after class, “I related to you more than any other guest speaker that’s been to our class in the last two years of being in Elevate.”
But Emmanuel’s impact didn’t stop there. Luckily for our students, he treated 27 Elevate students to a private tour of the Barclays Center last week. The students got to sit in the stands, walk around the floor of the arena where the basketball and hockey players play as well as visit every suite area – including Jay Z’s private suite.
We want to send a heartfelt thank you to Emmanuel for not only spending time with our students but also inspiring them to always strive forward towards their dreams.
Little Elevate and Middle Elevate
For six out of the 8 months of the school year, our Elevate students become the teachers and mentors. Using the Colorado Uplift program as a model, Elevate New York implemented “Little Elevate” 5 years ago, putting our Elevate students at the front of the classroom in a local elementary school, PS 335. For one hour each week, our high school Elevate students become elementary school mentors, teaching 2nd through 5th grade students. Elevate students learn and craft their 20-minute lesson plans during their elective classes throughout the week. For the last two school years, 60 Elevate students have taught 150 elementary school children, every week.
By challenging high school students to become the teachers, the character quality and life skills lessons that they’ve been learning are now being applied to complete the lessons’ circle: Elevate students become the leaders, mentors and role models they were always meant to be. Whether it is giving a presentation to the entire class or working with hands-on activities in small groups, our high school students work to improve the mindsets and enrich the knowledge of elementary school students in their neighborhood.
Furthermore, our students learn that spending time and energy to teach valuable lessons to their younger counterparts – is the greatest form of giving. It teaches them to be philanthropic, even before they start earning money.
With the success of our Little Elevate program, we launched our Middle Elevate program three months ago. Much like our Little Elevate program, our Elevate students are mentoring and teaching 6th and 7th grade students, during their lunch period. It has established a strong connection between these two groups of students, who share the same hallways throughout the day. We are seeing increased accountability from high school and middle school students. Once again, our goal is to serve our school community with the Elevate character qualities and life skills.
We are excited to see this program grow and are proud of our students for encompassing the lessons they’ve learned and the character-building qualities they’ve developed through Elevate to reach out and impact younger students.