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Organizations: Urban Hope

When Tyrone Holmes was nine, his mother died and he went to live with his single aunt. Later on, he took a paying job as a student leader in Urban Hope, a Savannah-based nonprofit that offers after-school and summer programs for inner-city children, where he mentored younger kids. “That job taught me responsibility and helped me develop my work ethic,” he says, “and it helped me grow educationally and spiritually.”

Thanks in part to his participation with Urban Hope, he won a full-ride 2015 Gates Millennium Scholarship (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) to Morehouse College, where he is studying psychology. “I want to become a school counselor so I can give back,” he says.

Holmes is just one of many success stories from the program, which began in 2000. “Our goal is to give kids a safe environment where they develop the tools to break the cycle of poverty and crime,” says board chair Cassie Beckwith. “Kids come here after school, and our first priority is that they do their homework. Then we move on to technology, arts and crafts, and music, and we provide transportation to their homes, which helps working parents.”

The organization keeps up its vigorous pace during the summer months, too, so that students do not fall behind in their learning. “It’s all based in education, but we try to keep it fun with field trips and outings to movies,” Beckwith says.

The organization serves kids in grades 1-12, with 50 students in after-school care and 85 kids in its summer program, along with a waiting list of 200. Urban Hope is based in St. Paul’s C.M.E. Church just south of Forsyth Park but is raising funds now to acquire a bigger space to accommodate more students.

“We’re not just a day care center,” Beckwith says, “We teach life skills.”

And those tools have proved a “blessing,” Holmes says.

urbanhopesavannah.org

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