ASU's ASPIRE Helps Community With its Summer Camp Projects

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ASU'S ASPIRE Summer Program Reaches Out to Help Young People and the Community 

By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

The ASPIRE (Amazing Students Putting in Resilient Efforts to Stay in School) summer program at Alabama State University has been busy recently not only by mentoring and tutoring local students from grades 6-12, but also by involving them in service projects in the Montgomery community. ASPIRE campers participated in a clean-up project at the ASU garden and an outreach program to give more than 100 Montgomery Public School System (MPS) students approved backpacks loaded with school supplies. 

"We feel it is important to help teach our young folks to be the best well-rounded person possible by helping them both academically with their studies, as well as socially, so they will respect the community that they live in and the people they come in contact with each day from family members and neighbors to strangers," said Cynthia J. Handy, the director of ASU's ASPIRE program. 


Along with working on improving their grades, summer camp ASPIRE students also got involved in what ASU President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. has embraced as “CommUniversity,” which is ASU giving back to the community. 

"In addition to teaching academics and having fun time, we like to impart on the children in our program life lessons and social skills that are very important in helping them live upright and moral lives, both now and as adults. That's why we had two projects this summer that included them working in ASU's campus garden planting tomatoes and cucumbers, pulling weeds, cleaning out the vegetable beds and performing other outdoor work that teaches them respect for hard work and the pride one can have in successfully accomplishing a project," Handy stated.  


The ASPIRE campers also worked with Handy’s staff to organize a project that allowed them to assist other local school students with much-needed school supplies for the fall semester. 

"We just completed a project that had our ASPIRE students sponsoring a campaign to help over 100 at-risk MPS students with the required see-through backpacks that were filled with many of the supplies they will need for class. This imparts on our kids the joy of giving to and helping others, which helps those within the area and imparts a good feeling that one gets from helping others," Handy exclaimed.  


ASPIRE officially began on ASU’s campus in the fall of 2011 under the creation and direction of Handy. The program's after-school and summer camp mission is to keep MPS students interested in staying in school, making good grades, graduating with a high school diploma and attending college (hopefully ASU," quips Mrs. Handy), as well as “staying out of trouble and showing respect for everyone they encounter” all with the help of life-counseling sessions.  

"We provide our ASPIRE students with a great deal of academic assistance because we know that an education is among the most important resources a student must obtain to succeed in life," said Handy. "By providing them with ASU undergraduate mentors, we are able to help them with homework and with understanding those academic subjects with which they have difficulty. We also provide them with ASU student-mentors as role models. In addition to offering assistance with classes, we also inform and instruct them on the importance of goal setting, establishing vision-boards on what to do in order to achieve a goal and a firm foundation in moral and ethical life-lessons, which helps round them out to be good students, great citizens and, one day, loving spouses and parents." 

More info: If parents, guardians or school counselors are interested in enrolling students from grades 6-12 in ASPIRE's fall after school class or wish to learn more about the University's ASPIRE Program, visit its home page at or call its office at 334-604-5371. 

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.