It has been said that dreams are the seeds of reality. At SEEDS of Hope, we believe young people with big dreams can transform communities. All they need is a boost. The SEEDS Scholar program provides students with a partial scholarship, a supportive circle of friends, and some informal mentoring to support their goals. That's all it takes, and these young people are ready to soar! Often, these talented and creative dreamers may be found right in our own backyard.
The SEEDS Scholar program began almost by accident back in 2006. One morning, I noticed an article on our local paper's front page about a promising young high school student who had big dreams to attend Berklee Conservatory of music. Quentin Bethea was just 8 years old when he discovered an old upright piano discarded by a neighbor. He begged his mother to let him have the piano. Brenda recalls telling her son, "Quentin, if you can get that thing home, you can have it," never dreaming that he would find a church volunteer with a van to help him drag the piano into his garage.
Quentin began teaching himself how to play on the old, out-of-tune piano. Before long, he was helping Pastor Barbara Brewton Cameron lead worship at Community Outreach Church. Now, Quentin was in high school and had been accepted to the prestigious Berklee Conservatory in Boston. He was trying to raise funds to attend. "I'd sure like to meet this kid," I thought to myself. "I wonder if there's a way to help him get to college?" Later that morning, I opened my laptop and happened to glance at my emails. I opened one from my husband and caught my breath. David had just forwarded an email from a young man seeking scholarship help—that young man was Quentin Bethea.
At the time, I happened to be part of a task force exploring ways to raise up young Christian leaders in vulnerable communities. Our team decided to come alongside Quentin to help with his education. Quentin had already been fervently working to reach his dreams. With his heart for God and leadership gifts, we were sure he would impact other kids.
One by one, we met young people with seemingly impossible dreams who faced similar challenges. In response, we launched the SEEDS of Hope, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The SEEDS team discovered that a partial scholarship of $5000 for four years, informal Christian mentoring, and a loving community turned out to be the strategic "boost" necessary to help these kids launch their dreams. We learned it was important to invest in their academic, interpersonal, and spiritual growth. We also spent time getting to know their families. The SEEDS Scholar team, comprised of business, community, and church leaders, helped students develop as Christian leaders and opened doors for meaningful service opportunities. We stand amazed as we watch their dreams grow—far beyond what we could have imagined.
Quentin was the first SEEDS Scholars. Since then, our ranks have grown. One student is now a doctor with a heart for the poor. Another is a world-class chess player and teaches chess to kids throughout our city. Several are talented entrepreneurs. Once homeless, one scholar is studying microbiology student in college. Another became a university standout and campus leader who now works on Wall Street.
The SEEDS Scholars Program has come alongside many students from a variety of communities and backgrounds. We believe it's crucial in today's world to pay attention to our young people's dreams. Mother Teresa challenged the world to tread gently around the dreams of children, for we "may be treading on the dreams of God." We believe every dreamer needs a team. We hope you'll join us in our mission to empower young dreamers so they can transform the world.