yasmine-arrington_400x295_84Next month, we look forward to introducing our donors and supporters to our newest grantees and sharing insights from our new Strategic Planning Process at our upcoming Chat & Chew for Change. As we prepare, we invite you to get to know our two new grantees better! We start with a Q&A featuring Yasmine Arrington, co-founder of ScholarCHIPS, one of our newest grantees.

Why is ScholarCHIPS innovative or disruptive?

Unlike other programs, this is not a one-time scholarship –it’s a renewable scholarship program for up to four years. We have a proactive and holistic program that encourages more youth to go to college and get a degree to set themselves up for success. There has been a cycle of intergenerational incarceration in certain communities which results in high school dropouts, individuals forced into working low-wage jobs, and financial and emotional issues in the home. Our support, both financial and emotional, reduces the probability that these students will go into the prison system, breaks the cycle of poverty in their families, and removes the stigma there is around incarceration.

Tell me a little more about the students you serve. What are your most inspirational stories of impact?

We have 23 scholars who have applied to our program during their senior year of high school. We mostly work with African-American students, evenly split between those who have a mother or a father who is incarcerated. One of our students has two incarcerated parents. Despite the challenges they face, my scholars continually inspire me with their motivation.

There’s Raynna who was one of our first scholars in 2012.  Both of her parents are from Cameroon but she grew up in D.C. Her mother was arrested as she was finishing up high school and she had to live with friends. Despite the turmoil of her high school years, she went on to Old Dominion University, graduated early, and is currently pursuing a dual MPH-JD.

Another one of our scholars, Gabrielle, dealt with both of her parents being sentenced to life in prison. She also ended up having a child during college and needed to take a semester off. She’s back enrolled at Bowie State University and is in on-track to graduate. That kind of resilience and persistence is something I see in all my scholars.

What is one key challenge you are facing that you hope to tackle with the support of DC Social Innovation Project?

Capacity. We get requests from all over the country from families and students who want to see their loved ones or themselves go to college but they don’t have the funds. Up to this point we’ve been an all-volunteer board. Now I’m in the position where I can transition into a full-time Executive Director role which will change the dynamics of the board. I hope through our partnership with DCSIP we can build our capacity to meet increased demand and foster effective community partnerships. Most of all, I hope our partnership results in us developing a solid, thriving model.

Come meet the incredible folks at ScholarCHIPS program on December 17th at our Chat & Chew. This event is only open to donors and volunteers, so make a gift today to ensure you can join us!