An Afternoon of Giving Back

by Ellen Berube, Student Advocate

Giving-BackWhat does it take to give back to your community? Eight eager Future 5 students discovered that the answer is quite simple: All it takes is time and a little bit of muscle.

On a Friday afternoon in October, Thomas Agosto, our Director of Students, and Ellen Berube, our Student Advocate packed their cars with Future 5 students and took off for the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. Upon arrival they were greeted by several hundred pounds of canned and dry goods to be sorted and shelved. Without hesitation our students jumped right in, working together to sort the green beans from the peas and the macaroni and cheese from the soups.

Community Service Leader Gerrianne Delaney remarked, “It’s really great for our kids to see where donated food comes from. I’ve brought kids here to volunteer in the past and some of them revealed to me that they’ve received food from this food bank.” It is volunteer opportunities like this that allow our students to put the character education we talk about at Future 5 into practice.

The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County served between two and three million meals in 2013 and relies heavily on volunteers to get those meals out into the community. Before leaving to head home a freshman Future 5 member said, “I feel like I’m going to have a better weekend because I started it off right coming here.”

Are you familiar with QuestBridge?

QB_logo_black_hi-resQuestBridge is a powerful platform connecting the nation’s brightest, under-served youth with leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities.

Referred to by the New York Times as “A National Admissions Office for Low-Income Strivers,” QuestBridge’s National College Match program is designed to help high-achieving, low-income students gain admission and scholarships to some of the country’s best colleges and universities.

Staying ahead of the game, our College Coaching Directors, Nancy Roath and Debbie Eagan set out to bring QuestBridge to Future 5. And this fall, five of our student members completed the application and are waiting to be selected as QuestBridge finalists. Each student worked with the coaches and chose 8 out of 35 partner colleges to be matched up with. If selected, a student will receive a full four-year scholarship from their match.

Hundreds of scholarship finalists who aren’t selected during the College Match may be admitted separately to the colleges, through a more typical admissions process, often with nearly full scholarships.

We are hoping that all five Future 5 students have met their academic match! Visit QuestBridge at questbridge.org.

Class of 2014 Marks Future 5’s Fifth Graduating Class

Shahearn Philemon, Senior Speaker, University of Connecticut-StamfordFuture 5, a nonprofit that works with disconnected high school students in Stamford to connect them to a better and sustainable education and career path, held their Annual Graduation & Celebration Monday, June 16, at the Old Town Hall in Stamford.

42 seniors who are graduating from Westhill, Stamford and Trinity Catholic high schools in Stamford graduated from Future 5’s ‘College Prep’ program. The class of 2014 is Future 5’s fifth graduating class and many students have been members of the organization since their sophomore year. 11 students will be attending Norwalk Community College in the fall. 24 have committed to attend four-year schools including Cooper Union in New York, Univ. of Mass., Elon in NC, UCONN, Southern Eastern and Western in CT, and Lynn University in FL. Seven students are undecided as to their college or trade school choice at this time.

“The future is important. There is a path to success. And Future 5 shows these students the best way to an affordable education,” said Clif McFeely, founder and director of Future 5. Currently serving 100 members, Future 5 works to instill a can-do attitude by teaching the importance of resilience, grit, optimism, follow-through, and integrity. The organization’s philosophy and community strengthens a student’s self-esteem through character building workshops, job and college preparation programs and one-on-one coaching.

Shahearn Philemon and Guelory Brutus were the featured senior graduation speakers and both of them will be attending UCONN, Stamford this fall. Each student shared their high school challenges and what their Future 5 experience has meant to them.

“Future 5’s number one goal is to help students graduate from high school and move on to a successful path towards college, trade school, military or full-time job by ensuring that each of our students develop the self esteem, motivation and game plan necessary to be successful in school and life,” said Polly Perkins Johnson, Future 5’s chairman of the board and New Canaan resident.

Since its founding in 2009, 99% of Future 5 students have graduated from high school. Stamford’s high school graduation rate is approximately 75%; 47% among Hispanics and 55% among African-Americans. Each class of high school dropouts costs the state an estimated $84 million/year.

28 volunteer coaches from Stamford and New Canaan worked directly with this graduating class throughout the entire school year. The volunteers along with Future 5 staff offer motivated students the opportunity for membership in a caring community with a life-altering network of ongoing support. Dinosaur BBQ in Stamford, CT donated food for the Future 5 Graduation & Celebration.