While the pandemic is not officially over, cities across America are looking forward to hosting a summer way different from last year’s.
In New York, where citizens and authorities are celebrating decreasing cOVID-19 cases and vaccinations’ rates, the long-waited return of events is another reason to welcome the sun in 2021.
One of these events is the 'Rose 2 Hope Initiative', an all expenses paid for week-long summit in New York City that connects at risk youth with top tech companies and professionals, including Nickelodeon, Spotify, Uber and iHeartMedia.
"The Rose Initiative is our annual big project that I created to show our youth and young adults what their future can look like. It allows them to physically see and touch their dreams, as they will meet people of similar backgrounds succeeding in their field or major organizations of interest. We are planting the seeds of endless possibilities in them as future leaders." – says Hillary Vargas, founder of the Rose 2 Hope project.
Although the fourth annual Rose 2 Hope Initiative was all virtual in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for 2021 visitors will be able to join a hybrid program (both in-person and virtual) taking place from July 29 - Aug 1st.
Having grown up in an urban setting, raised by a single mother who emigrated from Colombia, Vargas couldn’t find balance or happiness during her school years.
“Because I was a low-income student, I did what is called work-study, where the university gives you a grant for you to work 10 hours a week, either in their offices or to do community services. I decided to do community services and worked with kids at my local YMCA. Kids from low-income families, and I found love there. My life back then was chaotic, splitting my days between studying full time and also working full time to support myself and also in order to try to help my mum. But I realised it was the only time when I was extremely happy. Before that, I was into business and fashion, always hustling, getting internships here, working in shows in New York City. And although I loved it, I wasn’t purely happy. But I didn’t know how to localise that because everything for me was about getting money and good benefits. Working with those kids switched my views and, on the day I graduated, I told my mother that I still didn’t know what I was going to do – but it would be something to do with teaching.” – recalls Hillary. “The first year I was out of college I made only $10k and was on food stamps. But I was so happy. I was exhausted, working 70 hours a week. However, mentally and spiritually, I was happy. I worked with first graders and middle school kids.
It was during this thriving period of her life that Vargas started noticing the lack of representativity within the educational system in the U.S, prompting her to ask questions.
“Working in inner-cities schools I saw that there was a lack of mentorship. A lack of empathy towards the kids. I think there are phenomenal teachers. But I also think there is a lack of training and representation of colour. I’ve noticed that a lot of those inner-city schools where I worked at, I always would be the one of colour. So, I was like: why don’t we have more African-American teachers? Why don’t we have more Asian and Latino teachers?
In 2015 youth mentor and educator Hillary Vargas founded Rose 2 Hope, a non profit organization designed to help today's youth establish social, emotional, and academic balance. Its annual Rose 2 Hope Initiative is an ongoing mentorship program designed to pair mentees, based on their field of interest, with mentors, of similar background, who are successful in their respective fields. In 2017 the non-profit project received an Uber’s Project Jumpstart Grant, which is awarded to select organizations that lead in giving back to their communities. And since its inception, Rose 2 Hope has impacted over 500 young adults across the U.S.
“We need to nurture our kids because they are the future leaders. They are our future entrepreneurs, scientists. One of them could be our next black or Latino president.” – believes Hillary Vargas.
To find out more about the Hope 2 Hose project, visit: www.rose2hope.org
#SummerBucketList #Rose2Hope #SummerinTheUSA #Summerevents
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