This is an open letter to you and all the young people in this country who, through no fault of your own, find yourself living in under-served communities and not yet figuring out your way in this world.
There is hope. Never let anyone tell you what you cannot do and who you cannot be, or better yet… become. And whether you believe it or not, the key is education. It won’t solve all of your problems, but it’s something that will make you a contender for opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise be considered for.
Yes, of course there are a lot of high school, college and even post graduate grads out here who are having trouble finding jobs. But statistics bear out that people with high school diplomas and GEDs do better than those without. And people with college degrees do better than people without them, even during a recession.
But it isn’t only the diploma and degree itself. It’s the sense of accomplishment, your ability to stay with something and follow it through to completion, the people you will meet, and the lasting friendships you will make all come into play.
Learning a trade or becoming an entrepreneur are also good options. All I ask is that you think about your future and ways to ensure that you’re happy, healthy and productive.
The Tom Joyner Foundation for years has invested in students who may have everything but the financial resources to complete their college education. And even though I leapt out there without getting permission from the president, my son Thomas Joyner Jr., I promise to make good on my offer to you, Rachel. Like so many others, I was touched by you too and even though I wanted to give you a big hug, I realized a hug wasn’t enough. My mom did a good job at teaching us to give back and she’s the reason we started the Tom Joyner Foundation in the first place.
We are committed to meeting you where you are, helping you to get your GED and prepping you for the historically black college or university of your choice. It’s not going to happen overnight, but what true success story really does? The only thing I ask in return is that you reach out and try to make a difference in someone’s life as well.
Time and time again, we watch our young people get written off, tossed aside or put at the end of the line because no one wants to give them a chance.
If you’re reading this letter and you’ve gotten a second chance at life, let me hear from you. I think it would be great for Rachel and other young people to hear about your journey.
So big hugs and lots of hope!