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Igniting Dreams: A Recap of the Roads to Success Spring Benefit!

May 29, 2024

On May 9th, over 200 esteemed partners and supporters gathered to celebrate and reunite under the theme "Igniting Dreams" for NYC youth. The Roads to Success (RTS) Spring Benefit was a remarkable event filled with inspiring performance, heartfelt stories, and well-deserved recognitions.

The evening was hosted by Leslie Mayes Low, an Emmy-nominated independent journalist and media personality. Her passion for giving life to stories that might otherwise go untold added a special touch to the event.

The festivities began with a dynamic performance by talented RTS steppers from Hyde Middle School, setting an energetic tone for the night. As the evening unfolded, we were moved by the impactful success stories shared by four outstanding individuals:

  • Kemiah Frazier, an RTS alumna and current activity specialist, spoke about her journey and the support she received from RTS.
  • Amy Guzman, an RTS youth excelling in both her studies and internships, highlighted the opportunities provided by RTS.
  • Emerald Snipes-Garner, a former RTS SYEP intern and now the Founder & Executive Director of We Can't Breathe, Inc., shared her powerful story of growth and achievement.
  • Local business owner Craig Watson, the proprietor of Baked Cravings bakery, took the stage to talk about his positive experiences hosting RTS interns at his worksite. He proudly shared that he has even hired one of our interns permanently, demonstrating the profound impact of community support and mentorship.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of three prestigious awards:

  1. Trailblazer Award: Council Member, & Chair-City Council Committee on Children & Youth Services, Althea Stevens was honored for her tireless advocacy for homeless and runaway youth, juvenile justice youth, and students with disabilities. With over 20 years in nonprofit work, she continues to champion legislation that aids the nonprofit procurement process.
  1. Community Impact Award: Etsy's BridgE leaders were recognized for creating a safe space and fostering meaningful connections for individuals identifying as Black, Afro-descendant, and other intersections of the African diaspora. Their mission to offer a secure platform for communication and support is truly inspiring.
  1. Philanthropic Excellence Award: Principal Jaleelah Cooke was celebrated for her relentless efforts to ensure her students have access to the same opportunities and resources as those from more affluent areas. Her commitment has elevated educational standards and empowered countless students.

A special tribute was presented to an outstanding board member, Charlie Miles, whose dedication has been a pillar of support for RTS. His contributions have significantly advanced our mission and inspired many.

We must extend our gratitude to our sponsors, including Wells Fargo, Amskier, Deloitte, Little Minds Universe, Justworks, AT&T, Columbia University, Citi Bank, JetBlue and many others. Your support makes our work possible and fuels our mission to empower youth.

Gregorio Concha Toro, RTS Board Chair, expressed his heartfelt appreciation, stating, "I am deeply moved by the indelible mark our programs have left on countless young lives. From fostering educational opportunities to nurturing personal growth and development, Roads to Success undeniably shapes our community's brighter future. Yet, let us not forget that this journey is only made possible through the generosity of individuals like yourselves. Your contributions fuel our mission, propelling us forward to empower even more young people to realize their full potential."
Sheila Duke, RTS CEO, added, "Together, we've witnessed the power of community coming together to uplift and empower the next generation of innovators and leaders. Your dedication to our cause is truly inspiring, and it reaffirms our collective commitment to creating a brighter future for all."

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the RTS Spring Benefit. Together, we are igniting dreams and shaping brighter futures for NYC youth.

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