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Chelsea Clinton On 'Rock Center': Makes Journalism Debut Telling Story Of TOPPS Nonprofit

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First Posted: 12/13/11 09:36 AM ET Updated: 12/13/11 12:25 PM ET

Chelsea Clinton made her journalism debut on NBC's "Making A Difference" series Monday night by telling the story of poverty, hardship and hope in her home state of Arkansas.

Annette Dove, who runs Targeting Our People’s Priorities With Service (TOPPS) in Pine Bluff, Ark., provides tutoring, mentoring, meals and more for kids and teens. Through her nonprofit, Dove, a former educator and youth minister, aims to break the cycle of poverty and offer support for kids, specifically for older teens, according to TOPPS .

Dove targets those whom others may perceive as hopeless after having strayed off the path, plucking many of them from the juvenile system. Many of her kids said they'd be in jail or possibly dead without her support, Clinton reported.

"Our kids are punished because parents are unable to provide for them, and I don't think that's fair," Dove told Clinton. "And I feel like children ought to have someone in their lives who will fight for them or help them."

Dove said she paid herself only $19,000 last year, more than half of which went back to TOPPS. She's even had to file for personal bankruptcy. But the Arkansas woman says it's her calling, improving lives in both concrete and intangible ways.

"Sometimes I pass by the building, and it's Sunday at 10 o'clock at night and Ms. Dove's car is parked here, and I'm wondering, like, what is she doing here working, you know. So seeing the standard that she set made me set a standard for my life."

Dove is trying to secure funding and hopes TOPPS will be able to survive.

It's this type of story, Clinton tells Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, that can really make a difference. She explains she was inspired by her grandmother's recent passing.

"Recently, she had been cajoling me and challenging me...to lead more of a purposefully public life -- that being Chelsea Clinton had happened to me, and that I had a responsibility to do something with that asset and opportunity."

Clinton recently spoke at George Washington University and talked to students about how her father inspired her to tackle both global and local problems, ET Online reported.

"One of the reasons I'm most proud of my father is through his work with the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Global Initiative University," she told the college crowd. "He launched CGI and CGI U on the basic premise that everyone who wants to make a difference can and should. And the burden of how to turn good intentions into real action shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge."

Clinton told Williams that upcoming NBC segments will include stories similar to Dove's, featuring people who have felt called to help and want to inspire others to confront similar challenges in their own communities.

Feeling inspired to help? TOPPS is accepting donations to stay afloat.

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Filed by Jessica Prois  |