Living Life Purposefully

Where Purpose Meets Passion

Tag Archives: Youth

Help Youth in New Orleans by Voting for Project Excel in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge

Project Excel is in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.

Project Excel, a youth tutoring and enrichment program focused on the long-term academic success of youth in under-resourced areas of New Orleans, is an organization that sprouted in 2008. In the wake of school-restructuring post-Katrina, a Ninth Ward church organization, Compassion Outreach of America, decided that their community needed to gather volunteers to staff the nearby elementary and high schools, to provide tutoring, hallway monitoring and cleanup, teacher appreciation, and other services. Between 2008 and 2010, the program provided on-site tutoring services to Frederick Douglass High School and off-school site services to Charles Drew Elementary School.

Currently, we (Project Excel) are facing restructuring efforts ourselves that started with the hiring of a new Program Director. We are moving in a new direction while maintaining our grassroots approach to youth development and academic support to make an impact in struggling New Orleans schools.

Now Project Excel wishes to continue to make a difference by building a multimedia arts center for youth in the 9th Ward of New Orleans…and we want YOUR help!

Here’s what you need to know:

Project Excel is in the $50k group.
We are hoping to receive $50,000 from the Pepsi-Cola Corporation but they only award 10 of these a month. With our $50k, we’d use the money to renovate a building, lease the space for a year, and purchase the much needed supplies. The great thing? You can vote once a day EVERY day for our idea.

Make Sure You Vote Every Day!
Voting takes place from September 1, 12 pm ET – September 30, 11:59:59 pm EST with finalists being announced on October 1st.

Ways to Vote!
For the next 25 days, you can vote one of three ways!

  1. Vote online at by using your FB login. You can vote every day!
  2. Text 108737 to 73774 (remember that standard rates apply for this method).
  3. Buy specially marked Pepsi bottles and give a power vote to Project Excel by entering the code online. This method is called the power vote method and can give us 5 to 100 extra votes!

You can help us reach our momentous goal by voting for us in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge and we sure hope that you will!

~Project Excel

For more information on Project Excel, visit us at: Project Excel NOLA


What If?

Last night, I had the opportunity to hear Sonia Sanchez speak at my university. I would describe the experience as life-altering and most would probably feel as though it were an exaggeration. However, that’s what it was.

I had never gone through some many emotions in one discussion. To hear her poetry, I felt elation. To hear the stories she told of young people (much like myself), I felt extreme sadness. To hear her list the people that she’s acquainted with (either through personal experience or through study), I felt immense pride. To hear her speak of the human experience, I felt connected to every person in that auditorium. She spoke. Her words were living beings. Dancing…singing…painting a picture for all of us to see, feel, love, and experience.

And at one point, I wondered, “What if she lost her words?”

In that moment, I almost cried. I began to think of the people who had come before her. Who dared to speak. What if they had lost their words? I thought of those people who walked and ran to freedom. What if they had lost their will? I thought of the many unnamed faces that marched behind Dr. King. What if they had lost their courage?

What if?

This question is of immense importance. It’s one that must be asked and one that must be remembered. My generation. We don’t remember that those who came before us had to dig within themselves and find some courage to resist (she spoke on this too). They had a right to life, yet they had to resist for it. Resist for the right to vote. Resist for a voice. Resist for the right to be addressed as adults. Resist for the right to equal housing. Resist and make claims for schools that weren’t dilapidated. Resist.

Yet, my generation…we sit back. We don’t use our words except to hurt. We don’t use our limbs except to strike. We don’t use our courage to go against the grain. We don’t use our minds. We don’t use our music to encourage. We don’t depend on one another. We don’t recognize the need for community. We don’t. They did and those that are able continue to do. But. We. Don’t.

You see, I’m not a poet. I’ll probably never travel and paint pictures with my words as Sanchez is able to do. I haven’t been gifted with the ability to compose a melody with my nouns. I probably won’t write a book that many will read and wait for me to sign. But as reminded last night, I have a right to life. We all do. As such, we must all use our gifts. The one I was given allows me to the opportunity to resist and ask, “What if your child had to attend a failing school?”

I’ll take my words. I’ll use them. I’ll craft opportunities for young people. I’ll teach others what I’ve been taught from those who’ve walked before me. I’ll remember and I’ll work to make life better for those around and after me. The most profound (yet simple) thing that she said, “Everyone has a contract to life.” I signed my contract in the field of Educational Policy. I’ll take my contract (sinceĀ it’s renewed everyday) into my community. I’ll speak words of peace. I’ll live love. I’ll hand out contracts of life to others. I’ll hope they sign. I’ll do this all because I remember those before me and I ask the question, “What if?”

And I hope that you do to.