Kaylin Washington and Marquis Moore, two young parents from Prince George’s County, both think they might not be pursuing their college degrees right now if it weren’t for the support they received from the nonprofit Generation Hope.
“I remember there was a point where I wanted to give up, and I thought maybe if I just dropped out of school, just worked more, maybe it’d be better for my daughter because I’d have more income,” Moore said. “I went to them with that idea, and they were like, ‘No, it’s a great thing that you’re going to school, and it’s the best thing for your daughter.’
“They encouraged me, told me going to school was not wrong.”
Generation Hope supports young adults in the D.C. region who became parents before they turned 19 to pursue college degrees. According to a 2012 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, fewer than two percent of teen mothers who have a baby before age 18 earn a college degree before they turn 30.
“If I didn’t have the program, I probably wouldn’t be (in college) until I knew I could get financial aid or I knew I could get enough money to pay for school,” Washington said.
Each student, receives tuition assistance support, one-on-one mentoring and case management. They are paired with a sponsor, who assists them through mentorship and tuition assistance.
Rosa Hamilton, Washington’s mentor, has been volunteering with the program since last summer.
“What it has entailed so far has been role modeling, it’s being a sounding board when she has had questions or concerns or challenges,” Hamilton said. “My scholar is pretty independent....It’s starting where they are, meeting her where she is, discussing some of the things she needs to discuss with me, and we have goals that we work on.”
Hamilton, a social worker by profession, said she appreciates the organization’s emphasis on helping the person and their family.
“What really struck me (about Generation Hope) was their focus on education, and they’re really understanding of helping the teen mom or dad from a holistic approach, not just focusing on the parenting piece, not just focusing on a specific aspect,” Hamilton said. “I like the idea that it’s the total person and their child, and not just one aspect of their life,” Hamilton said.
Washington is studying public relations at Prince George’s Community College and is preparing to transfer to a local university next semester. She also works two jobs.
“(The people at Generation Hope are so nice), and they genuinely care about you, and just make sure you’re continuing with school, and if I need anything with my son or even with myself they have resources I can go to,” Washington said.
She said the support that she receives from the organization is essential.
“They always call, check up, just see how are the grades doing, do you need any help, are you behind on something, do you need a tutor. I know for sure if I didn’t have that, I would be all over the place.”
Glen O’Gilvie is the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, which supports about 1,000 nonprofits in the D.C. region, including Generation Hope.
O'Gilvie has been involved with the program for about two years, working with his mentee, Moore.
“The mentor-mentee relationship is in-depth, and it’s both helping and engaging with the mentee on their personal, academic and professional goals,” O’Gilvie said. “So being there, being an active partner and helping him to attain those goals is a lot of what our conversations are about, whether we’re talking on the phone or via text message or in person.”
O’Gilvie and Moore have children who are close in age, and their conversations also center around raising children.
“I learned a lot from my mentee,” O’Gilvie said. “I think that’s a part of the partnership and the relationship I really enjoy. The conversations we have and his milestone moments, some of the notable ones are his academic successes. He’s doing really well towards his medical degree. I’ve also enjoyed the milestone moments with his daughter, supporting her in her dance and cheering, and also with her reading.”
Moore, who is working towards a nursing degree at Prince George’s Community College, learned about Generation Hope from a coworker at the hospital he was working at the time, who herself participated in the program.
“It’s been really a positive experience,” Moore said. “I’ve been able to get not only financial support to go back to school but emotional support. I learned that was the biggest thing that was missing from me pursuing my dreams, was being able to have somebody there that was able to guide you in the direction, and then not make decisions for you but support you in the decisions you make.”
He said before participating in Generation Hope, Moore had difficulty keeping up with the financial aspect of his classes. He would have to drop classes because he did not have the money to afford all of them.
“It’s such a good feeling going into the semester, knowing that my classes won’t be dropped, because you know the organization has already put money towards my classes so that they won’t be dropped,” Moore said. “From the standpoint of continuing education, my mentor encourages me often to continue school, that it’s the best thing for my daughter, that a college degree would changer her life.”