Our next "Who's Next" feature is of a trailblazing young lady that was able to take a great positive out of an otherwise negative situation. Not only has she been able to make light of her situation but impact the lives of others across our country. Meet 22 year old Yasmine Arrington. She is the founder and Executive Director of ScholarCHIPS ( For Children of Incarcerated Parents). See below for the full interview!
Organization Objective - Summary
ScholarCHIPS provides college scholarships and a support network for children of incarcerated parents, inspiring them to complete their college education.
What made you start ScholarCHIPS?
As a high school junior I was searching the web, with my grandmother, for scholarships I could apply for to help me pay for college. In our search, my grandmother mentioned to me that she did not see any scholarships for youth with incarcerated parents in the DC area or along the East Coast. When I conducted my own research I discovered that over 2 million youth in the United States have a parent in prison like myself. This is a part of my personal story, as my father was in and out of prison while I was growing up. As a junior, I was also a fellow in a program called LearnServe International that teaches DC youth about social entrepreneurship and social change. This was the perfect platform for me to propose my idea to start a scholarship and mentoring program for this demographic. People really liked my idea and ScholarCHIPS has been growing ever since. ScholarCHIPS was incorporated in January of 2013 and received 501c3 status in October of 2014.
What makes ScholarCHIPS different than others?
ScholarCHIPS’ approach is boldly innovative because it is an organization that was created by a high school student with an incarcerated parent, who saw a service she could have benefited from and created it herself. Our approach is uniquely therapeutic as scholars have several opportunities to informally spend time with each other and the founder to talk about the challenges they face, dispelling the taboo around this topic. As we speak up about this issue, it inspires others to do the same.
ScholarCHIPS distinguishes itself from similar organizations as an innovative program with a unique background story, a comprehensive approach to supporting scholars and an advocacy arm that aims to change public perception and policy. We are currently the only organization in the area that has established an effective, working model that offers college scholarships to youth with incarcerated parents, mentoring, college life skills training and exposure to arts and culture.
Highlight [ Moment ] of your time with the ScholarCHIPS?
My highlight moment thus far as the Founder and Executive Director of ScholarCHIPS, was being featured on Black Entertainment Television's (BET) Black Girls Rock show in 2012. It was such a surreal moment to be in the midst of so many of my favorite black celebrities and for the organization to be highlighted on national television. It was a light bulb moment for me as I realized that people value the work that I do and also believe that it's important. To this day people still recognize me and the organization from that feature three years ago-so it is still very powerful.
What is next for you and ScholarCHIPS?
I expect ScholarCHIPS' impact to ultimately cause a nationally heightened emphasis on the importance of college completion among children with incarcerated parents, an increase of college completion within this population and a positive alteration of public perception of this population. Over the next five years I expect ScholarCHIPS to be further along in the process towards our ultimate goals for impact, which will encompass establishing more partnerships with community leaders and organizations (i.e. associations, foundations, non-profits, businesses), increasing the amount of scholars and DC youth we serve, and increasing the amount of volunteers who mentor students, advise the board, advocate for the cause and assist with programming. It will also encompass increasing our involvement with public forums, panels, symposiums and conferences dealing with issues surround incarceration and children with incarcerated parents and being involved first-hand with related policies.
In three years, several of our scholars will have graduated from college and I envision them becoming community advocates and mentors to other youth. Our alumni and scholars will be vital in telling the national narrative of children with incarcerated parents who have been successful. I envision that in five years that the organization will position itself as an advocate for education and a national catalyst for positive change, not only in the lives of our scholars who successfully matriculate through college, but also as a driving force of policy change by transforming inaccurate societal assumptions about these youth.
Twitter and Instagam: @Scholarchips