WASHINGTON — Two teenagers from Anson County were treated to a trip last month and will continue to receive benefits thanks to a Charlotte organization.
Antonio Evans, a board member of Make an Impact, said that his organization chose six boys from the Charlotte area for the Upward Mobility Project. Two of the boys, Daquavious Pratt and Jayeleen Horne, both 15, were from Anson while the others were from Mecklenburg County. All were high school freshmen and sophomores.
Chris Haley, another board member, helped find the teens who would participate. A Wadesboro native and 1981 graduate of Bowman High School, Haley was the natural choice to scout Anson for participants.
He contacted Morven Elementary School principal Dionnya Pratt to try to get an idea of who to speak with, he said.
All of the teens were African-American. Among the requirements, they had to have an interest in entrepreneurship, have never flown on a plane, and have never been to D.C. to participate.
The teens visited Washington, D.C. on April 27-30 and had a full itinerary.
“Each day was filled with different experiences, such as visiting black-owned businesses, the American Museum of Natural History, (and watching) a Washington Nationals baseball game,” Evans said via email. “We visited Arlington National Cemetery, (the) Dr. King memorial, and other sites. The kids experienced their first flight, Uber, and Metro rides. We discussed family life, short-term/long-term goals, the need for more business owners, the importance of quality education, taking care of their respective communities. The boys visited historic Howard University and grasped what it will be like to attend college if they choose to go that route.”
It was supposed to be more than a simple sight-seeing trip.
“The bulk of the conversations was about black-owned businesses,” he said. “In an effort to teach these young men about upward mobility, they need to understand ownership. So a lot of the talk was about ownership and providing for your community. We visited AMAR Group, (an) architectural firm, Busboys and Poets, a restaurant chain named after famous poet Langston Hughes.”
Even though the trip is over, Evans said his organization will check in with the boys and continue the project.
“We are planning a dinner with the boys in a few weeks along with some of our donors and board members,” he said. “The recap on the last night in D.C. was inspiring, emotional and unforgettable. They were grateful for the opportunity and experience they gained. Moving forward, I will be in contact with the boys weekly via text, Skype and meeting once or twice a month for service projects, entrepreneurship discussions and development training.”
Evans said that both the teens and their parents have responded with positive feedback about the trip.
“The good part about it is, these boys reminded me so much of myself growing up,” Haley said, adding that he was from a low socio-economic background. He is now retired, living in Charlotte and the owner of LuciusJames Consulting, LLC. “I wish someone had given me that opportunity when I was their age. It was like a reflection of my past.”
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.