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Community Activist Helps Kids Go to College

For some African-Americans, life in the inner city is a matter of day-to-day survival. In cities such as Washington, D.C., in the poverty-stricken, crime-infested neighborhoods many students can only dream of attending college, a springboard to professional success. In Washington, D.C., a city with one of the lowest high school graduation rates, we found a woman who is Making a Difference by helping students realize their college dreams.

A summer Saturday of basketball in Washington, DC, is more than just a game of basketball. It is an annual fundraiser for the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund, which helps the area's needy high school students go on to college.

"They have the resilience. They're resourceful. They're determined, but nobody can do it alone, Susie Kay said. Kay is the founder and president of Hoop Dreams. "And when the odds are stacked up so much more against you, it's that much harder."

Kay was a teacher at a predominantly African-American high school in a tough D.C. neighborhood when she launched Hoop Dreams.

She says she was frustrated by the steep barriers her students faced in going to college.

She started hoop dreams in 1996 and since then, the D.C.-based non-profit group has helped send more than 920 low-income high school students to universities.

One way Kay's organization helps is by providing mentoring for the students.

"Hoop Dreams helped me significantly," Stephanie Bowles said. She came from a violent D.C. neighborhood to finish second in her class at a math, science and technology high school. The Hoop Dreams graduate now is a university student. She says Kay is very passionate about her organization.

"She works very hard, extremely hard," Bowles said. "She's constantly pushing and pushing to help us just to get everything we need. Anything you need, Susie Kay will be there to help you with it."

LaQuintha Carroll is one of many Hoop Dreams graduates who have returned to mentor. Now a university graduate, she works with a high school senior named Rashai Lee. She says students look up to her, knowing she received a scholarship through Hoop Dreams.

"The reason I came in is because I want them to see that there is a way, and no matter what adversity you go through. You will always go through adversities," Carroll said. "But there's always someone that may go through something a little bit worse than you have."

Kay says she often reminds herself how vital the program is for young people who need help. She considers every one of her students an inspiring story.

"They're amazing young people, and that's why this organization exists, and that's why I'm trying to keep it going," Kay said.

And Kay lives by her belief that nothing is worth doing that can be done easily, and that the real thrill in life lies in accomplishing a job of lasting value that others say can not be done.

Some video Courtesy of Hoop Dreams