Giving Back Against All Odds

The experience and memories of being left home overnight at the age of 5 to care for her infant brother made Christine Carter commit to caring for at-risk youth, which she identifies as those with drug-addicted parents or who have been growing up in poverty without basic resources.

“My mother didn’t return home for days on end. I didn’t know what to do so I took my brother to kindergarten with me one day and the school called DYFS (Department of Youth and Family Services). That was my first memory of being involved in child protection services,” Carter recalls.

By the age of 7 her mother had died of complications from HIV/AIDS, forcing Carter and her brother to live with abusive family members or in foster homes. Carter recalls being bounced between public housing projects, motels, the local YMCA, group homes, and sometimes even left to sleep on the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Fortunately, by the time she was a senior at Clifford J. Scott High School in East Orange, her teacher and class adviser, Faythe Allen, encouraged Carter to go to college and helped her through the application process. Carter went on to study at Norfolk State University and graduated with a bachelor’s in social work in 2003.

Now, at the age of 30, Carter is able to give back to the same Newark community where she lived amid drugs and poverty, through her nonprofit, The Against All Odds Foundation, which she started in 2004.

To fund the foundation Carter took $90,000 from a home equity loan and borrowed from friends. She initially envisioned turning a residence into a 24-bed transitional living facility, but later modified the program to provide education services because state funding wasn’t available to operate transitional housing.

In 2006 she incorporated as a 501(c)(3) and provides tutoring, life skills, financial literacy, and public service to students in grades K—12, as well as social services to the general public throughout the state of New Jersey. Since 2007, Against All Odds has served more than 10,000 scholars with 97% of them having improved their math skills, and 96% having enhanced their language arts skills. About 99% of scholars have improved their academic performance and behavior in their homes and at school.

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