The Brightside: Foundation of HOPE
EASTON, Md. – An organization in Easton is helping young girls and women lead productive lives in their communities, by providing cultural, social, spiritual, and educational development. Program leaders are preparing to graduate their first set of students, hoping to show just how successful the program can be. “So if we can help these girls develop these skills that will just propel them to be a great and awesome adult, that’s what we’re here to do, that’s what they’re trying to teach,” says Keasha Haythe, CEO of Foundation of Hope Inc.
Most can agree, the next generation of young adults has some unprecedented challenges ahead of them. However, they’re challenges organizations like the FOH are hoping to help young women conquer. “I figured okay if we can train young girls early and teach them how to be viable contributors early, then they’ll be prepared to go right into the workforce,” says Haythe.
Haythe tells us, she’s been in economic development for over 18 years. The past few years have revealed some young adults just don’t seem fully equipped to take on the real world. So she and other leaders formed the Foundation of Hope, Economic Development and Empowerment Program for girls; Which hopes to tackle that problem starting at Easton middle school. “The girls go through 16 weeks of workshops basically and they learn everything from how to deal with low self-esteem to how to deal with bullying, eating healthy, and exercising.” She adds, ” they develop a junior business plan, write a check, fill out a job application, budget, vision board, and much more.
Back in 2017, a group of 6th-grade girls at Easton middle school, began to set goals for themselves, imagine a future, and were given the tools to help ensure they reach it. These are goals we’re told by one student in the program, she once thought were unobtainable. “I struggled with self-esteem at a younger age so I wanted to get into the program and learn how to do the things that help you in life,” says Ja’Kyra Ware, a student,
Ware, is a senior at Easton high school and is also part of the first graduating class who took part in the program six years ago. She tells us, she learned how to deal with the big feelings that come with adolescence, stress management, dress for a job interview, write a check, communicate with co-workers, and so much more. “I think about how five years ago, I was that little girl that was struggling and now I’m happy and everyone,” says Ware. She adds, “Not many girls can be a part of this and I’m very grateful to be a part of it, it has helped a lot.”
Although the program is only at Easton middle school, Haythe, and community partners say they hope this idea expands to other communities. “So what we’re hoping to do is expand the program to areas that may want to incorporate this program in their school system, and we have the workbook already developed,” says Haythe.
Meanwhile, Ware shared her advice for other young girls. “Be outgoing, try those opportunities even though you’re scared to do them, use those opportunities that you have the leadership skills that you learned in the program, applying to jobs and colleges and everything.”
Ware also tells us she’s headed to Chesapeake college for two years and then hopes to transfer to Penn State to pursue sports broadcasting.
The organization is also working on its capital campaign, aiming to build its first hope center. They say that will allow them to expand programming and attract more students. More information can be found by visiting their website.