I want you to take a moment to ponder the sentence above. Think about the 15 youth we’ve empowered with the knowledge that they can generate money from a product created from produce grown in a low-income neighborhood. These kids are like the thousands who wake up and are exposed to negative images and messages every day, all day. Radio and TV news, billboards, storefronts, peer pressure, media and music that condone illegal and irresponsible behavior are all factors that keep so many “at-risk” youth on the predictable paths to unemployment, poverty and prison.
We are not naïve enough to assume that the Sweet Potato Project has rescued our kids from these negative economic or societal factors. But with your help-as donors, volunteers, teachers and consumers-we have planted a seed. Today, it’s cookies; this summer it can be other food-based products; tomorrow it can be large scale urban farming, packaging, canning and distribution that will not only generate income for youth but can employ and empower other “at-risk” populations.
Although we were under-funded, we were committed to launching the program. As many of you know, we faced many, many challenges. But, again, thanks to you, our kids received a bi-weekly stipend and were able to “earn while they learned” to be self-sufficient entrepreneurs in their own neighborhoods. I along with the North Area Community Development Corporation’s (NACDC) board are committed to raising more funds, restructuring and launching an expanded, new and improved Sweet Potato Project this summer. For this, we need and welcome your support.