TOP 5 SERIES: My Story of HOPE in Five Photos

By Michael Desautels
Staff Photographer

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This is where it all started for me. Michelle, one of the co-founders of H.O.P.E., was looking for a photographer. I met the H.O.P.E. team for the first time at the public library in January 2014 and took this picture of the executive board at the time [Jeff, LaToya, Brandy, Michelle and Teneasha, who isn’t pictured]. I love this image because the group was so willing to open up to me and let me photograph them after just meeting me for the first time. They look fabulous in their bright colors!


I love the light in this image. Jeff is speaking at our 2015 Mixer and is backlit to make him the focal point. I also love the expressions on Jeff and the people around him. They seem to be having a good time while Jeff explains why he and Michelle started H.O.P.E., a nonprofit that raises money for students attending HBCUs.


This picture was taken at the 2014 work out boot camp in Georgetown. Of all the photographs I’ve taken of H.O.P.E. events over the past year and a half, this is my favorite. The young woman’s eyes are focused upward and she is both intense and joyful. 


This is what it is all about. We traveled to Dillard University in New Orleans, LA in March, 2015 to spread the word of H.O.P.E. and to give a scholarship to Ashley Greene who attends this fine HBCU. Isaiah, Michelle and Jeff surround the new scholarship recipient who is clearly happy with her giant check.


This photo was taken at our August, 2015 car wash. I love this picture because the volunteer’s smile lights up the photo. Perhaps she is so happy because she knows that she is making a difference in the life of a college student. She is indeed a #hopedealer.


Top 5 SERIES: How The H.O.P.E. Scholarship is Making an Impact

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As we rev up to celebrate our fifth anniversary, The H.O.P.E. Scholarship highlights five areas where we are making inroads.

Mobilizing Millennial Philanthropists: Philanthropy is a word that is often used to describe multi-millionaire donors who give to charitable causes, but The H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative is an organization rooted in the belief that anyone willing to share their time, money or their talent with masses for a worthy cause can make a significant philanthropic impact. We believe that anyone can make a difference. You don’t have to be a genius or a millionaire to make a positive contribution to society. Hard work, determination and a passion for service can turn any dream into a reality. 


Empowering Students: Every year, The H.O.P.E.  Scholarship takes its message of helping others on the road. This year, we hosted our 3rd Annual Hope Tour at Dillard University. While there, we equipped students with necessary life skills via our dynamic “Life After Graduation” panel discussion, driven by the perspectives of young college alums. H.O.P.E also awarded a $250 book scholarship to a deserving student and made a $250 donation to the institution. Past HOPE Tour destinations include: Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., Bowie State University in Bowie, Md. and Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas.  


HBCU Advocacy: Not only does The H.O.P.E. Scholarship as an organization support HBCUs financially, we’ve also created infrastructure so that you can too! Click here and donate to the HBCU of your choice. HBCU pride doesn’t pay HBCU bills. Give!


Highlighting #HopeDealers: The H.O.P.E. Scholarship makes it a point to highlight people who are doing amazing things in their communities. Last year, Dr. Crystal deGregory, executive director of HBCUstory, was named HOPE Dealer of the Year.

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Scholarships: HOPE better have that money or, at least, that’s what college students say. Since its inception, The H.O.P.E. Scholarship has awarded 12 scholarships to students attending historically black institutions and other elite universities.

Join The H.O.P.E. Scholarship for 5th anniversary celebration. For more information visit:

TOP 5 SERIES: A Handful of Moments in H.O.P.E.


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H.O.P.E. began as an idea and a prayer; in five years we have created memories. It’s hard to choose a few, but below are some of my favorite moments.

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Mix. Mingle. Network.


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For the average person networking is not fun. Sometimes, networking can feel like work, which is the last thing most people want to do on a Sunday afternoon. But there is a way to network and have a good time, it’s called Speed Networking.

How perfect is it, to only be committed to a conversation for 5 minutes or less?

During our event, you’ll have conversations exploring potential business opportunities between you and the person across the table (from you) and when time is up, you get to meet someone new.

This format allows you to meet the majority of the room while having fun in the process.


Raise your hand if you:

1. Want to advance the cause of non-profit, business, social club or brand
2. Want to meet more young professionals in the Washington, DC area
3. Want to hang out on a Sunday afternoon while supporting a cause

If’ you raised your hand you should RSVP today. If you have not raised your hand yet, check out our past mixers and meet our sponsors by visiting our Facebook page.

We hope to see you this Sunday, March 8th.

Live HOPE. Give HOPE.

So Much Samsonite


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Similar to your everyday commute, flying to get to work has become the new normal for me. Some days I run into the airport with open arms and others I have to remember, I asked for this; I’m 30,000 feet up in the air, somewhere in-between home and are we there yet.

For my first trip of the year, I decided to create a photo blog to shed light on having a job that requires significant travel. Currently, I serve as the Director of Recruitment and Admissions at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I search the country for new students each term but, primarily for the fall semester.


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140 Twitter Challenge: Nitosha Dawson


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Every year The H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative hosts the 140 Twitter Challenge and in the past we have awarded one scholarship annually; this year we were fortunate to award a second book scholarship through a partnership with Community One.  Community One is a non-profit organization that exposes at-risk youth to interesting careers.


The 140 Twitter Challenge is a scholarship competition designed to meet students where they are — on social media. HOPE releases a question on Twitter, students respond in 140 characters or less and the best response is awarded a $140 scholarship. Nitosha Dawson was selected as the winner of our second 140 Twitter Challenge book scholarship.

Challenge Question: “How can you use your desired career path to make a difference in the world?”

The winning response: “I plan to use my degree and love for poetry to start a nonprofit after school program dedicated to literacy for minority kids.”

Nitosha Dawson is a junior at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, majoring in social work. Dawson is involved in Voices Poetry Group, Dream Defenders, and Student Social Work Association. In the near future, Nitosha plans to study abroad before graduating Suma Cum Laude.

A HopeDealer is any person with the intent to make the world a better place and that is what you are, Nitosha.

For more information, visit our website.

Give HOPE. Live HOPE.

140 Twitter Challenge: Amber Gibson


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AmberThe H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative is pleased to announce Amber Gibson as the winner of H.O.P.E.’s 3rd Annual 140 Twitter Challenge.

The 140 Twitter Challenge is a scholarship competition designed to meet students where they are — on social media. Students respond to a question provided by HOPE on Twitter (@hopescholarship) in 140 characters or less and the best response is awarded a $140 book scholarship.

For this challenge we posed the question, “Across the country, students are leading marches, sit-ins and protests. What role should students play in social justice movements?” Amber’s winning response was “We must figure out how we can use our individual disciplines to help further our communities and use our degree to empower.”

Amber is a graduate student at Howard University, majoring in school psychology. Amber’s extra-curricular activities include mentoring, volunteering and community development.

Currently, Amber is pursuing a PhD with the hopes of working with incarcerated youth and closing the achievement gap between students of color and their peers. She also aspires to help develop academic support in juvenile detention centers.

Amber’s skill-set and ambition are much needed in today’s society; you are a “HopeDealer”.

Visit our website for more information.

Give HOPE. Live HOPE.

The H.O.P.E. Blog has Moved


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Happy New Year H.O.P.E. Dealers!

We are pleased to announce that the H.O.P.E. blog has moved…home. The H.O.P.E. blog can now be found at along with up to date information on H.O.P.E.’s calendar, scholarship application and opportunities for you to continue to support our efforts.

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In 2014 we are focusing on quality over quanity. The H.O.P.E. blog schedule has been changed to bimonthly. Every other Monday we will publish an article written by members of the H.O.P.E. dealer community, thought leaders, education leaders and members of the H.O.P.E. team.

We are slowly transferring the blog’s archives. Until this is complete continue to visit this location for your favorite past H.O.P.E. blog posts.

Thank you for your continued support!

-The H.O.P.E. Team

Meet Dillard University Student Nicole Tinson: HOPE’s 2013 Scholarship Winner

Tinson HOPE scholarship 11-2013 1My mother was very protective of my twin brother and I. To not be so, would have been reckless in South Central Los Angeles.

Growing up in my neighborhood came with familiar stereotypes: drug addicts on the street, gang graffiti on every surface and fights over insignificant things. My mother made sure we were so busy being nurtured at school and church or serving in the community that getting into the trouble that seemed unavoidable for so many of my friends was impossible for us.

At the age of 16, my older brother was killed in a drive-by-shooting. At that point, I could no longer ignore or pretend away the social problems of my community. It was then, that I decided that I would be and do more.

I applied and was accepted to Dillard University. Dillard has helped me understand black culture in a way that makes me proud of my heritage and confident in my ability to make good on my promise to improve help change the circumstances that plagued my neighborhood.

At Dillard, I have begun my journey to make social change as a student leader in the roles of Senior and Junior Class president and president of the Dillard University NAACP chapter. In these positions I have organized community service events for Hurricane Sandy, a series of city-wide community discussions on a range of topics including the 2012 presidential election, a discussion on the use of the “N word,” and events to help students improve their professionalism.

I am also Dillard’s financial learning ambassador where my responsibility and goal is to teach students and the New Orleans community about personal finance. I held the honor of being the keynote speaker for the 21st Annual Take Back the Night in New Orleans event which focused on domestic violence. I also organized a World’s AIDS day event, a topic that is critical to the African-American and African Diaspora communities.

Dr. Cornell West said, “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people”.

I’m committed to improving the socioeconomic circumstances and sociological perspective of African-Americans in the United States as well as other under-served communities through policy change. I believe the way to inspire and create hope for others is through action founded in love.

Thank you to The H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative for contributing to my education and inspiring me to continue to seize every opportunity presented to me.

Nicole Tinson
Dillard University
2013 HOPE Scholarship Winner

HIV and Young People: The Fight Continues

The reality is that too many young people in the United States are at risk of contracting HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that:

  • An estimated 8,294 young persons were diagnosed with HIV infection in 2009 in the 40 states with long-term HIV reporting, representing about 20% of the persons diagnosed during that year.
  • Seventy-five percent (6,237) of these diagnoses occurred in young people aged 20–24 years. Indeed, those aged 20–24 had the highest number and rate of HIV diagnoses of any age group (36.9 new HIV diagnoses/100,000 people).

The problem of HIV/AIDS is especially acute in minority communities.Despite representing only 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in that year, according to Centers for Disease Control.

But there’s more.

  • In 2009, black men accounted for 70 percent  of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. The estimated rate of new HIV infection for black men was more than six and a half times as high as that of white men, and two and a half times as high as that of Latino men or black women.
  • In 2009, black men who have sex with men (MSM) represented an estimated 73% of new infections among all black men, and 37% among all MSM. More new HIV infections occurred among young black MSM (aged 13–29) than any other age and racial group of MSM. In addition, new HIV infections among young black MSM increased by 48% from 2006–2009.
  • In 2009, black women accounted for 30% of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. Nearly (85%) black women with HIV acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for black women was more than 15 times as high as the rate for white women, and more than three times as high as that of Latina women.

It’s time to take a stand against this disease. As we recognize World AIDS Day, remember that you have the power to protect yourself. You have a say in what happens to your body.

Remember to be safe and smart with your decisions. Don’t be afraid to get tested or to insist that your partner gets tested; knowing your HIV status and that of your partner or partners will help you make more informed decisions. HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic, but each us can do our part to stop it. Our collective goals is getting to “zero!” That means zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination for those infected.

Live HOPE. Give HOPE.


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