Washington, DC, Public Speaking Challenge

Urban Alliance DC hosted its annual culminating event, the Public Speaking Challenge, at the World Bank on July 31, 2013. One hundred fifty Interns arrived at the bank, dressed professionally and ready to meet the challenge of delivering their first formal PowerPoint presentation to a large and daunting audience. The audience included local business leaders, mentors, school counselors, funders, Urban Alliance Board members, and other stakeholders, 45 of whom judged the Interns’ presentations on content, diction, and professional presentation.  In an effort to incentivize hard work and to communicate to the youth that success in the professional world is merit-based,  Urban Alliance awards a $100 bonus to Interns earning a score of 80% or higher on their presentations.  Presentations focus on the Intern’s experience with Urban Alliance over the program year:  this allows the Interns to be the subject matter experts, reporting on such information as their job site’s mission, their mentor’s path to success, what they learned, challenges, accomplishments, and how their expectations for a professional workplace differed from the reality of their experience.  Interns also presented their post-secondary plans.

Urban Alliance Interns, Lydia Wood and Devante Hendren, were interviewed on Fox 5 Morning news about their experience with the program. Lydia, a recent graduate of McKinley Tech High School, spoke about her time working for Clark Construction in their HR department. This fall, she will attend North Carolina A&T University where she will study biology. Devante Hendren, also a recent graduate of McKinley Tech High School, shared thoughts about his time as an intern with Corporate Executive Board. This fall, he will attend Delaware State University where he will study engineering physics. To view video of this interview, click here.

The next day’s awards breakfast was held at the Woolly Mammoth Theater. Tony Lewis, Vice President – Verizon’s Mid-Atlantic Region, delivered remarks to our young people about the journeys they are embarking upon. He dispelled many myths about the financial decisions that successful individuals make each and every day and encouraged our interns to use good judgment when faced with these same choices. Mr. Lewis stressed the importance of building up skills in networking, communications, follow through and financial literacy for all of those in attendance. These principles are keys to maintaining momentum on the path to success.

In August of 2012, Hands on DC, an all-volunteer nonprofit dedicated to creating better schools and brighter futures for District of Columbia public school students, approached Urban Alliance with a partnership idea. One way in which Hands on DC fulfills its mission is by providing scholarships to deserving DC young people headed to college. Since Urban Alliance works with approximately 130 young people through its High School Internship Program in DC each year, and 90% of those youth are accepted to a two- or four-year college, both organizations believed that Urban Alliance Interns represented a strong pool of candidates from every DC high school to award scholarship funding. Throughout the year, Hands on DC and Urban Alliance worked to craft and hone a brand new scholarship program naming it the Spirit of Service Scholarship. Award winners participated in at least one Hands on DC volunteering event, beautifying DCPS schools or painting murals, wrote an essay answering the question “what does service mean to you and your community”, and participate in a 10-minute interview before a panel of Hands on DC volunteers and Urban Alliance staff members.

On August 1st, Urban Alliance and Hands on DC were provided the perfect opportunity to recognize Spirit of Service Scholarship recipients. Out of a pool of 14 applicants, four exemplary Urban Alliance Interns were awarded a total of $27,500 to help cover costs associated with their first year of college. The inaugural Spirit of Service Scholarship winners were: Eric Murphy ($7,500 – attending Norfolk State), Brittney Mayo ($7,500 – attending North Carolina Central University), Nicolas Hawkins ($7,500 – attending St. John’s University), and Kiana Donaldson ($5,000 – attending Trinity University). Urban Alliance and Hands on DC congratulate these young people on their dedication to service and their educational drive, and wish them the best of luck in their first year on campus!

Hands on DC also contributed matching funds to Urban Alliance’s Intern Excellence Award in the amount of $2,500 bringing their total investment in Urban Alliance’s youth to $30,000 for the 2012-2013 program year. The matching funds were disbursed based on High School Internship Program Mentors contributing to the award pot on a 1:1 ratio. The $5,000 raised was paid out in five $1,000 scholarships to the most deserving Intern on each of the five Program Coordinators caseloads for 2012-2013. Recipients of the Intern Excellence Award for 2012-2013 were: Jasmine Johnson (Virginia State University), Hassan Asraful (Catholic University of America), Alexis White (Trinity College), Lydia Wood (North Carolina A&T University), and Kelly Cruz (Trinity Washington University).

Due to generous contributions of Arden and Muriel Wilkins, long-time supporters of Urban Alliance, the organization was able to award the Maignan-Wilkens Scholarship to three impressive Interns. Scholarship recipients demonstrate academic accomplishment, the potential to succeed in college, and the desire to make a positive impact on others and society. This year the scholarship was awarded to: Devante Hendren ($3,000 – Delaware State University), Teisha Bradley ($2,500 – Columbia College Chicago), and Monty Sylvan ($2,000 – St. John’s University).