Founder & CEO of Generation Hope Nicole Lynn Lewis with Scholar Ambar Campos
Author and media personality Sarah Jakes, former teen mother and daughter of mega church pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes to serve as keynote speaker
WASHINGTON, DC — On Friday, June 20, Generation Hope will host its third annual gala, “Pep Rally Under The Stars” at the University of Maryland in College Park to raise funds to support teen parents in the Washington, D.C. area.
In 2010, former teen mom Nicole Lynn Lewis founded Generation Hope to provide financial and mentoring support for teen parents or “Scholars” who are pursuing higher education degrees. Lewis graduated from the College of William & Mary while raising her infant daughter and went on to obtain a master’s degree in social policy and communication. Recently named a 2014 CNN Hero, she is the author of two books and a spokesperson/consultant on teen pregnancy, teen parenting, and college completion among marginalized youth. Generation Hope is in its third year of program services and has been featured in The Washington Post, “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” and “The Steve Harvey Show” for its innovative work.
The organization’s Scholars are matched with a mentor to ensure college completion, which helps break the cycle of poverty for young families in the D.C. area. One hundred percent of the 2013 Scholars are the first in their family to attend or graduate from college. The gala will celebrate the achievements of Scholars, present the Scholar of the Year award, and welcome a new class. Generation Hope’s most recent graduate, Ericka Harley, will share her story at the gala.
Ericka Harley graduated from Trinity Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in May 2014. She also served as senior class president. Once unsure about whether she wanted to attend college, Harley changed her mind after giving birth to her daughter at 17. “Once I had her, I decided to go [to school] so I could prove to her that if I could graduate, she could too,” said Harley. She credits Generation Hope with keeping her focused on her goal. “This is the first time ever that I felt like people really believed in me.”
Marikit Williams will also be celebrated at the gala. Marikit graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in December 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in family science. Her GPA plummeted when she learned she was pregnant at age 17. “The support of other teen parents around me helped motivate me to do better and succeed in school,” Williams says. She is now a teacher at a fine arts school and plans to start graduate school.
To date, Generation Hope has supported 26 Scholars, provided $55,000 in college tuition assistance and presented college-readiness workshops to more than 275 high school students who are pregnant or parenting.
For more information on the gala, visit http://supportgenerationhope.org/gala/.