By Robert Martinez

Closing the Gap’s Mission is to help youth in our community who have limited resources pursue a better future through preparation, education and vocation. There is no finer example of that statement then what occurred on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at Delegata’s new headquarters in Sacramento.

Twelve students from Valley High School in Sacramento have beaten the odds, earned the grades and done the work it takes for admission to four year universities. In a ceremony attended by friends and family, hosted by Delegata’s President & CEO, Kais Menoufy, each of these low income students received a brand new netbook, as they prepare to enter their respective four year schools.

Dana Howard, one of the founding members of Closing The Gap, explained that the money to purchase the netbooks came from Closing the Gap’s annual fundraiser last March. Master of Ceremonies, Petri Hawkins-Byrd, television personality of Judge Judy fame, challenged donors by asking, “Who will pledge to buy a netbook for a deserving student?’ Within five minutes, there were pledges for twelve notebooks!

All twelve of these hard working students participate in a unique college preparatory program at Valley High School, called Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT). The program was started in 2013 to inspire young men of color to break generational cycles of poverty, incarceration and low educational attainment. At the ceremony, IYT co-founder Michael Lynch, proudly announced each of the netbook recipients and announced the university each will be attending:

• Johan Cardenas, CSU, Sacramento
• Isaiah Collier, Consumnes River
• Isaiah Gilbert, CSU, Sacramento
• Samuel Lauderdale, CSU, Sacramento
• Kyrence Mazyck, UOP
• Edgar Mercado, UC, Davis
• Keylen Newsome, CSU, Sacramento
• Joel Nicholson Jr., CSU Sacramento
• Alayae Sanders, Alcorn State University
• Devon Sanders, UCLA
• Thaddeus Turner, CSU, Sacramento
• Tex Wambui, UC, Davis

As each of the students came forward, the Closing the Gap Board Members, including Cheryl Miles, Jeanne Reaves, Kais Menoufy and Dana Howard greeted them with congratulations and their netbook!

“These students have not had the privileges that other students have had so their accomplishment is even more impressive and it is so important for the community to support their journey” said Cheryl Miles, President of CTG.

While the ceremony was all about the students and those that support and motivate them, it was good to see that news crews from KCRA Channel 3, KXTV Channel 10 and KOVR Channel 13 were all on hand to share their journey and accomplishments with the entire Sacramento. Click here to view news coverage.

photos courtesy of Ace Blakkolb