06/21/2013 02:25 pm ET Updated Aug 21, 2013

Project ASCEND: Changing Education Through Scholarship

The common thread in conversations about education in Washington, D.C. consists of heart-wrenching stories about students slipping through the cracks of the public education system. The dialogue rarely focuses on how residents are working to mediate shortcomings in the public school systems through nonprofit programs and other education initiatives.

Project ASCEND serves as one of those organizations that have responded to the call of action for a change in public education. In 2011, Project ASCEND was created to provide civic engagement opportunities to at risk youth. Last week, this organization launched an education initiative that provided $5,000 in college scholarships to local high school students. These students are members of a Project ASCEND funded program, the Lovely Ladies of Laurel Mentoring Program. This after-school program has worked to improve the lives of over 100 young girls through engaging students in academic tutoring and community service.

At a special ceremony awarding these students scholarships, tears began rolling down each of the recipients eyes as they became closer to dreams of attending college. Students honored included: Abisola Akinkuowo, Gelena Alexander, Ebony Marcus, Victoria Pagan and Angel Tillery.

Akinkuowo contributed her academic success and personal growth to L3. "My mother wanted to send me to Nigeria because of my behavior but thankfully [Lovely Ladies of Laurel Mentoring] assisted me to improve, and I was able to continue school in the U.S."

Project ASCEND has made a commitment to continue its life-saving efforts to improve education. This organization proves that anyone can make an impact in a community. Project ASCEND chose to answer the call to fight back against America's education crisis.

How will you answer this call to action?