Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ... -Marget Mead
In the continued show of sacrifice and will, we at the Beyond The Bricks Project have continued to persevere in the face of every challenge. As founders, Bricks has lead us to our next film in the city of Newark that involves children, education and their futures... All of the children that we have the opportunity to work with are bright in both mind and spirit; they work to gain their share of the American dream. Many of them work to get the grades they have been told are a necessity in order to be successful despite the conditions in many of their schools.
One of the young people, a 14 year old named Kory is a great example of what inequity and poverty does to so many children in this county who possess drive passion and limitless potential. We met Kory when we decided to follow Citizen Schools New Jersey, an expanded learning time program that exposes a number of Newark's children to many real world options and opportunities.
We have been following Kory for almost two years and he has been consistent in his goal to obtain success through higher education; he wants to be an attorney. Kory has moved twice in the two years lost his oldest brother and never seemed to be phased by the curve balls that his environment throws at him. Early in our film relationship Kory shared a book that he had written with me, while still holding firmly to the book looking me non-threateningly in the eyes, Kory told me that he wanted the book returned in the same condition in which I received it.
This past school year Kory attended one of Newark's most changeling schools. He was one of the hundreds of children transferred during the citywide consolidation. Despite not having a permanent science teacher for most of the school year and other unstable conditions that are not conducive to a positive educational environment, Kory has persevered. I have witnessed in Kory an Obamaesque quiet confidence that allowed him to navigate the entire student body with respect. He was 8th grade class president, gave morning announcements and presided over a youth group called Boys to Men. Through Boys to Men he brought together 20 or so peers to discuss everything from behavior, the feelings involved in absent fathers to respecting your mother. I have sat in amazement at how this young man controls the room with a smile and mutual respect.
You ask; why am I reading this, well, Kory graduated 8th grade and was accepted into one of Newark's top schools to attend high school. When he was presented with the opportunity to apply, Kory opted to pick up the application personally rather than have it mailed to his house. The admission personnel were impressed by this show of initiative that in an interview they stated that Kory was their kind of material. Unfortunately Kory may not be able to take root and grow into the young man that this institution helps to create. Why not? Because his mother cannot afford the subsidized tuition. Statistically, likely to his detriment, Kory is slated to go to another school in the city with different outcomes. This school has a percentage of children who have been incarcerated and affords them another opportunity to make a choice at the fork in the road. Kory has made the choice to maintain honorable mention; his crime is that he is economically challenged. When we learned that Kory would not be going to the school of more opportunity, we immediately started to speak to anyone we thought could help. Lucy Castillo of Citizen Schools stepped up to partner with us and has become the driving force to ensure that Kory's opportunity would not pass him by.
Kory attending the school of second chances would be tragic for his trajectory but a compelling plot point in my film.
We wanted to paint a picture of what we stand to lose and feel duty bound to see that Kory gets the sunshine and water needed to blossom into the Baobab tree I know he can be. Inspiring him to continue in the traditional spirit of protect and nurture this well so that others may drink from it that has gotten many of us where we are today.
Kory's tuition is $16,000.00 the school and financial aid has subsidized $9,300.00 he needs $6,700.00 for this year to attend the school of better life options. We would like to raise funds for Kory's entire four years in high school, keeping in mind that the amount of subsidized aid varies from year to year. So if you can, please do. If you cannot, please share the link.