R.E.A.D. (Resources for Education Advancement and Development): a 501(c)3 non-profit
May 22, 2013. This week Essay Coaching is honored to have Kayli Stollak as our guest blogger. Kayli graduated from NYU Tisch in 2009, and has been doing great things ever since. Besides pursuing her dream an author and television screenwriter, she has raised the funds for eight students to attend college in Africa through a charity she created. The students are one year from graduation, but now their school fund is nearly depleted. Her students can use our help. Kayli writes about her students and her innovative charity, R.E.A.D., below.
“I have gathered my experience from the school of life, which offers a spectrum of knowledge: never give up, always do your best with integrity, and know that destiny can be delayed but cannot be denied.”–From the college application essay of Charles Odhiambo, one of the students awarded a R.E.A.D. scholarship
As Americans we often take our education system for granted—I know I did. Until 2009 when I volunteered in a children’s home in Kenya and met kids who were so hungry for an education, so eager for any educational tools (i.e. books, pens, paper, lab supplies, etc) they could get their hands on, I hadn’t truly realized the tremendous luck awarded to us in the western world—we have been given the gift of education!
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region in the world most affected by AIDS; due to the widespread epidemic, the number of orphans left behind is staggering. With the intense level of poverty in the area, the main priorities for children are food and water. Because these basic human needs are a constant struggle to provide, education is rarely treated as a primary concern.
When I returned from that trip I formed R.E.A.D. (Resources for Education Advancement and Development) a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to raise money in order to buy and supply textbooks and school supplies for children’s homes and award university scholarships to orphaned schoolchildren. We currently have eight students enrolled in university—these are the kids with the fiercest ambition and most defined goals for their future.
The first four students I sent to university came from a “school” that was hardly a school—there was only one official teacher for over 300 students and two or three textbooks to be shared by classes of over thirty kids (most of the textbooks were not even relevant to the Kenyan syllabus that they would be tested on). Even with all these hurdles in front of them, there were students who worked relentlessly to make sure that no matter what, they would score high enough on their exams to be admitted into university.
The kids I work with have scarce resources but what they have is drive like no other I have ever seen. With the odds counting against them, it is the kids who are dedicated to their studies and know that education is the only tool that can break the cycle of poverty who are able to rise to the top.
When applying to university we often get caught up in our test scores and GPAs but, beyond the numbers, we must also remember to have passion. Charles Odhiambo, one of the students awarded a R.E.A.D. scholarship, wrote in his application essay, “I have gathered my experience from the school of life which offers a spectrum of knowledge: never give up, always do your best with integrity, and know that destiny can be delayed but can not be denied.”
When applying to universities, keep in mind the precious gift of education you have been given, the importance of ambition, and remember that if you have the drive and dedication you will see results.
To learn more about R.E.A.D., the kids we work with, or how you can help, please check out: www.thereadproject.org
–Kayli Stollak is a founder of R.E.A.D. and works as a writer in New York City.