I received a very surprising email earlier this year. It was from a woman named Danielle Worth who co-founded Up Rising Stars Inc., an organization that assists students in going to college and achieving their dreams. In the email, she told me that she wanted to honor me with their “Communicator of the Year” award at her org’s sixth annual scholarship awards gala. Humbled by this recognition, I began to research Up Rising Stars and discovered the amazing community work that it is doing to help college-bound youth.(Darcell Johnson, Danielle Worth, Imani McEachern, Jada Williams, and Keiana Worth Image courtesy of Up Rising Stars)
Worth founded the nonprofit with her sister Keiana and her mother Darcell Johnson in 2011. Since then, the family-run org has distributed 11 scholarships and about $9,250 to deserving high school students in New Jersey and New York. They raise money by holding fundraisers throughout the year. “We want our youth to know that we care and are willing to provide resources so their dreams can become a reality,” reads part of the Up Rising Stars Inc. mission statement. They also facilitate workshops throughout the year geared toward helping students apply for scholarships and college. When they’re not doing that, they’re fundraising.
While at the 6th Annual Phillip Dorsey Scholarship Awards Gala last month, I was able to meet this beautiful family in person. Not only were they wonderful people, but the event was fabulous. Actor and comedian Talent Harris served as host and kept the jokes and the night rolling. To kick off the gala, three professionals shared their experiences working in their respective fields of journalism, entertainment, and not-for-profit.(Black Enterprise Digital Editor Selena Hill Image: Photo courtesy of Up Rising Stars)
Before the night ended, two promising young women accepted The Phillip Dorsey Scholarship Award, which was named after a generous family member. Awardee Jada Williams, an incoming freshman at Lincoln University, says the scholarship helped ease the burden of college tuition and fees. “Your investment in my education is one of the best investments that you can make because I will not let you down,” she said. The other scholarship awardee, Imani McEachern, is a freshman majoring in biology at St. John’s University.
“The 6th [annual] gala was a success because of the support we received from our supporters, our team, and everyone who participated,” Worth told Black Enterprise following the event. She added the pieces of advice she would share with the scholarship winners. Use your “time wisely, stay focused, and remember why you are there. Have fun, but don’t get distracted; get good grades and always keep God at the center of all your decisions.”
For me, the most inspiring moment of the night was the realization that Worth has fulfilled her own calling by helping youth achieve theirs.