ASU's ASPIRE Turns 10 Year's Old.

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ASU's ASPIRE Program for Youth Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Scholarship Fundraiser

- The ASPIRE "$10-for-10" Campaign establishes scholarships to help current ASU students succeed. 

By: Kenneth Mullinax/ASU 

The Alabama State University ASPIRE (Amazing Students Putting in Resilient Efforts to Stay in School) Program is celebrating a decade of helping MPS junior and senior high school students succeed in school and prepare for the next phase of their lives. In honor of the anniversary milestone, the organization has launched the ASPIRE's “$10-for-10 Campaign” with a goal of raising $10,000 to provide academic scholarships to existing ASU students who serve as mentors in the program.  

The campaign asks for donations of as little as $10 — one dollar for each of the 10 years of ASPIRE’s existence. The campaign will culminate during the week of ASU’s Turkey Day Classic. 

ASPIRE officially began on ASU’s campus in the fall of 2011 under the creation and direction of one of the University's most beloved staff members, Cynthia J. Handy; who remains as its executive director. The program's after-school and summer camp mission is to keep MPS students interested in staying in school, making good grades, graduating with high school diplomas and attending college -- "hopefully ASU," quips Mrs. Handy -- as well as “staying out of trouble” 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," stated Handy. "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 help round them out to be good students, citizens and, one day, spouses and parents." 


The ASPIRE "$10-for-10 Campaign" is Handy's way of celebrating a decade of lifting MPS student's up, while investing in the program and its ASU student-mentors. 

"What better way to celebrate ASPIRE's 10th anniversary than to raise money to create scholarships for students who are already enrolled at the University who help inspire and mentor some of Montgomery's at-risk students both after school and in the summertime," Handy said. "We ask for as little as $10 -- the cost of one lunch -- to help us lift-up students with our total goal of raising $10,000 by the Turkey Day Classic." 


Handy reminisced about the first cohort of ASPIRE students that consisted of just 32 middle to high school students. Now, the program averages more than 100 students and swelled during one recent (non-COVID summer) to a record 150 ASPIRE students served. 

"Our reputation and good work has resounded around the school system to such an extent that our success has forced us to at times put children on a waiting list to join," Handy exclaimed. "Of course, the COVID pandemic caused us to first suspend and then scale it back, but our numbers are again on the rise." 


In addition to offering educational assistance in academic subjects and life lessons to last through adulthood, ASPIRE also offers field trips that serve a dual purpose. 

"Our field trips are both fun and educational because we want these kids, many of whom are from poverty, to see things they might not have experienced unless they were enrolled in our program. We hope that they will take something away from the experience, which might teach a lesson in life or inspire them to reach out and work just a little harder to do well in school so they might obtain a dream. Among our many field trips have seen our young people travel to the world headquarters of Coca-Cola and CNN in Atlanta, which inspired some to set a goal of one day working for them," she explained. 

The program also includes community projects that help students to learn the value of hard work and service to others.  

"This summer our students were approved by the Montgomery Park and Recreation Department to help both clean-up and beautify the city's Vaughn Road Park. They did a magnificent job and earned the praise of the city for putting their hearts into the project. It gave them a life-lesson of the nobility of labor," Handy touted. 


To donate $10 for 10 Years of ASPIRE at ASU (or more if desired) that will help fund academic scholarships for existing University students who help mentor the ASPIRE program's sixth - 12th grade MPS students, click on this link: or copy it into your web browser. 

ASPIRE specific questions may be answered by calling at 334-604-5371.

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