04/04/2012 03:52 pm ET Updated Jun 04, 2012

Because of People who Cared

Faith for Change is dear to my heart. At the age of 16 I left California to avoid becoming a victim of the streets. With no money, failing grades, not knowing where my mother was at the time I packed up and moved to NJ. My grandmother said, "leave and don't look back, there's nothing but trouble for you on these streets, I'll miss you but go."

Next month I'll return to my old neighborhood after being gone for more than 20 years. Past visits have only been for funerals. This time I'll go back to help churches working to get kids off the streets and succeed in the classroom. No funeral this time. Instead, I'll go back with two college degrees and a book deal, still President of the company that I started eight years ago and my newest venture, Faith for Change. I only wish my grandmother was still here to see me come home to do some good.

In reflecting on my past experiences, and things that I had to overcome as a child, I wanted to find ways to help children growing up in similar circumstances. I want to inspire them to believe in themselves and know that they can make it.

Recently we launched a campaign on seeking the support of people who care enough to try. We're asking people to help us grow and continue our work with kids like me by making a small donation of $5 - $10. Why are we doing this? Because I know what it's like to be a child feeling alone in the world wondering if anyone cares enough to help. I know what it's like to wonder where your next meal will come from, if you'll make it home safely after school, and if life has anything better to offer other than a life of poverty and self doubt. The answer is yes. With the support of caring people, life can definitely be better. Our goal is to do our part in showing kids like me that there are people who care enough to try; people willing to make small sacrifices that combined can change the life of a child hoping for a better tomorrow.

At-risk youth and under performing students need to be inspired, but equally as important is their need for adults who are willing to do the work of helping them succeed academically. Education continues to be our most reliable tool for creating upward life trajectories and optimal opportunities.

Faith for Change is an organization that aims to build a national network of churches and people of faith committed to doing the work of implementing proven educational strategies for improving the academic outcomes of our most vulnerable children. The end goal of our work is to encourage a culture of academic excellence in our children, families and communities through the provision of appropriate support, enthusiastic mentorship and resources. We want more young people to look back at their lives one day and say I made it because of people who cared.

To find out more about Faith for Change and how you can be involved please visit