A Year of Growth and Gratitude

A holiday note from Eshauna Smith:

Dear Friends,

It has been a whirlwind year for Urban Alliance. From launching new partnerships with the Obama Foundation and Martha’s Table to bringing our signature High School Internship Program to Detroit, we’ve experienced a time of incredible growth. Reflecting on this jam-packed year, one word comes to mind again and again – gratitude.

I’m grateful for the amazing Urban Alliance staff and board who never failed to put our students first despite the long hours, big changes, and challenging surprises along the way. I’m grateful for the new communities who welcomed us with open arms in Detroit and the South Side of Chicago. I’m grateful for our partners – schools, employers, and funders – whose unwavering support has allowed us to dream bigger on behalf of our students. Most of all, I’m grateful for the students who inspire us to work harder and do better every single day. And I’m so proud of all they have accomplished.

To get to the year-end Public Speaking Challenge, our interns give a lot. We put them through a professional training boot camp before they even begin working. Then our interns are thrown into a professional environment that – for most – is completely new and daunting. Then they work – and work hard – for nine months while many of their friends are off having fun – and this is all while completing their senior year of high school, applying to higher education or future employment, and coming to terms with the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. It’s an enormous amount to ask of them, but they pull it off with such grace.

All too often, however, this kind of opportunity isn’t available to the students who need it and want it the most. Our 2017-18 annual report examines the unequal access that young people from underserved communities have to meaningful paid employment and to the professional world. Programs like ours are still needed to help close this gap.

So I want to close out 2018 by thanking you all – profoundly – for helping us open the door to opportunity for so many young people this past year. To put it simply, we can’t do this without you. As our community continues to grow, it hasn’t lost any of the passion and dedication that make it so special. Our students know that when they leave Urban Alliance, they have a family of supporters with them every step of the way. What an incredible gift you’re giving them.

At Urban Alliance, we wish you all a joyful holiday season, and a wonderful new year.

With gratitude,

Eshauna Smith
Urban Alliance