In 2013, Keasha Haythe had a vision. She wanted to teach young girls how to prosper and excel in life. She created the Foundation of HOPE (HOPE stands for Helping Others Prosper and Excel) in 2016, and developed the Economic Development and Empowerment Program. This innovative initiative, delivered to girls as they enter middle school in 6th grade, is designed to address a range of topics including self-care, goal setting, time management, job readiness, and even how to write a business plan, among many others.
In 2017, the first cohort, made up of six girls, entered the Economic Development and Empowerment Program. This year, all six are set to graduate from high school. Each credits her success to the skills they learned through Foundation of HOPE.
Maya currently plays basketball for the Easton High School girls team and is headed to Chesapeake College in the fall to study Criminal Justice. Jy’Kyra loves cheer and is on the Chesapeake Elite Cheer Team. She will also be attending Chesapeake College in the fall and plans to become a Sports Journalist. Maretta will be taking a gap year and then studying the culinary arts. Amorie is a dancer in the Beyond the Stars Dance Group. She is applying to the Chesapeake College Radiology Program. Lilyanna starts at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut this fall and will be working to become a Secondary Math Teacher. Ashley is excited to follow her passion for beauty and hair in Cosmetology School.
Haythe beams when she talks about these extraordinary young women. She shares. “Even though girls go through our program during 6th grade, that doesn’t mean they never hear from us again. We have formed a partnership with the middle and high schools that allows us to keep track of them throughout their educational journey. We also keep in touch with the girls and their families. To see how they have progressed – how they have grown and matured – and what they have to look forward to in the future… I am so very proud of each and every one of them.”
Foundation of HOPE is preparing to welcome its seventh cohort into the program in the new year. Last year, they purchased a plot of land, and are in the process of designing a center where they will be able to expand their programming and help even more girls find the confidence and learn the skills to become strong, powerful young women and the future leaders of the community.
Jy’Kyra has some advice for the new girls entering the Economic Development and Empowerment Program. She says, “Don’t grow up too fast and want to be an adult too soon. Six years until graduating high school may seem like a long time when you are in 6th grade but it goes by fast.”
Time does fly, but through the Foundation of Hope, local girls are able to use that time wisely and take charge of their futures. For the first graduating class and those who come after, that future is looking very bright.
To learn more about Foundation of Hope or to make a donation, visit foundationofhopemaryland.org.