May 9, 2017
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This scholarship serves high school seniors whose parents are incarcerated

Inspired by her own experience, Yasmine Arrington launched a nonprofit to support an underserved population

EDITOR'S NOTE

LearnServe International is a nonprofit organization that equips students with the entrepreneurial vision, tenacity, confidence, and leadership skills needed to tackle social challenges at home and abroad. The LearnServe Fellows program guides students as they design and launch social ventures, and this month, we are highlighting some of those projects.

One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is the freedom and support to be creative. This is the gift that LearnServe International gave me. It changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of many like me in my community.

As a high school student, I participated in the LearnServe International Fellows Program, a year-long entrepreneurship training course focused on social change. After completing the course, I travelled to Zambia with LearnServe Abroad and worked with in-country social entrepreneurs. LearnServe was an environment where I connected with students of diverse genders, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and academic perspectives. We were exposed to a range of professionals in various fields who shared their creative solutions to real, everyday social problems.

LearnServe’s curriculum, guest lecturers, pitch opportunities, and mentor guidance gave me the chance to engage communities at home and abroad. Ultimately, the organization helped me to identify a macro-level problem and create a micro-level solution. The macro-level problem I chose to address was the lack of resources for children of incarcerated parents in the United States. Over 2.7 million youth in the United States have at least one incarcerated parent. My own father had not been present in my life due to his incarceration. As a high school junior, my grandmother and I researched scholarships to help me afford college. We discovered that out of the thousands of college scholarships available, not one in the D.C.-area specifically served youth with incarcerated parents.

My micro-level solution was born. ScholarCHIPS: For Children of Incarcerated Parents is an organization that provides scholarships and mentorship to help youth with incarcerated parents attend college.

I am truly grateful to LearnServe for giving me the guidance and skills training to thrive in innovative social change work. My relationship with the organization has been transformative for me as a social change leader and crucial to our scholars’ success. To date, ScholarCHIPS has awarded more than $100,000 to 29 scholars. In 2016, we celebrated our first college graduates. In 2017, we’ve received a record number of applications. I now mentor current LearnServe Fellows, an incredibly enriching experience.

I am eternally grateful to the LearnServe staff, volunteers, and partners who have helped me bring my idea to reality. I would encourage all high school students in the D.C. area to get involved with LearnServe.

Yasmine Arrington

Founder of ScholarCHIPS

Yasmine Arrington is the founder and Executive Director of ScholarCHIPS, a nonprofit that provides scholarships and mentoring to youth with incarcerated parents. She was a LearnServe International Fellow in 2010. Yasmine was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications and History from Elon University and is working on her Master of Divinity degree at Howard University. Yasmine is also a motivational speaker, plus size model, poet, and aspiring radio personality. Follow ScholarCHIPS on Facebook and on Twitter @scholarCHIPS