26th Generation of Promise Class Graduates

The below is a social contract written on behalf of Focus: HOPE, Generation of Promise Class XXVI.

Division is another form of discrimination
Long past the time of scorching, sun soaked Southern
segregation,
Separation has been centered into the streets of our
home
We have let asphalt borders breed apathy
and in our indifference our city was consumed by
flames—
Flames of hate and rage
Flames intended to burn down systemic subjection
But they only stoked fears of change.

From the streets and divisions, we have risen
From cinders and ashes, we have risen
right along the rebirth of a city and a nation,
A generation of promise:
Minds and eyes open,
searching for education
seeing our diversification
We have learned the value of cooperating over
competing,
dreaming over despairing,
embracing over excluding
loving over loathing,

Divided we may have come but united, despite it, we
stand
We are more than what separates us
We are one
One whole heart beating with hope for humanity,
focused on a future we will change
We are the youth of today, sure, but we are also the
promise of the past, and the solution to the future
Our aim is to fulfill our society duty to seek justice,
diversity, equity, peace
We will not accept silently that which must be changed
silence begets not but isolation, ignorance, and
intolerance
we will act, for others over self, to rectify injustices
Gone long witnessed and long unchallenged

Let this be our illuminated manuscript, letters aglow,
message aglow
Let our full hearts be set ablaze, impassioned and
enlightened
lighting Prometheus’s verdigrised torch;
He sits crossed legged, holding our spirit in one hand and
knowledge in the other
Knowledge given to all not just the few
Be you black, white, or brown—the flame will burn the
same
And brighter than any one pin prick of light is a sea of
lanterns radiating truth,
setting the city aflame once more;
This time a fire built from love and acceptance,
burning anew with the heat of salvation
burning down not but barriers
We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.

GOP Graduation 2017

Generation of Promise brings together high school students from different backgrounds, races and ethnicities across the metropolitan area to build community and leadership skills. Students are encouraged to challenge stereotypes or misconceptions they hold and work to build relationships across divisions.

GOP Graduation 2017(3)

Sunday, May 6, 2017, more than 50 high school students successfully completed Focus: HOPE’s 26th Generation of Promise program. Fun fact; last year’s Harvard University’s Valedictorian was a Generation of Promise Graduate.

GOP Graduation 2017(2)

Congrats to all of the Generation of Promise Young Leaders who showcased their leadership and community building skills through this 10-month curriculum. Click here for more information about the program.

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Our Employees Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Alison Gala, Focus: HOPE Communications Volunteer 

“There is a need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964. “Man must evolve for all human conflict, a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

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This mission is one we hold close. The 1967 Detroit Race Riot was one of the most violent urban revolts of the 20th century. Rioters smashed windows and looted stores. Fires spread rapidly and raged out of control, covering 12 square miles. Gunshots echoed through the streets. The violence lasted an estimated five days and nights. Forty-three people were killed. Over 1,000 people were injured and over 7,000 were arrested. The overall property damage totaled about $32 million.

Several important political, economic and social factors triggered the unrest. Key factors included police brutality, lack of affordable housing, segregated schools, wealth disparity and demographic changes. The outlook was bleak.

“Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate,” MLK wrote in his book in 1968. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Father William Cunningham founded Focus: HOPE in 1968 in response to the Detroit Race Riot the year before. Cunningham was a visionary leader and civil rights activist who marched alongside MLK in Selma, Alabama after “Bloody Sunday”. In the beginning, we were a series of volunteer  projects aimed at restoring the Detroit community. Eventually, with assistance from Eleanor Josaitis, Cunningham’s project turned into the multi-million dollar nonprofit that we are today.

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Focus: HOPE founder, Father William Cunningham
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Focus: HOPE, co-founder Eleanor Josaitis preaching to a crowd on civil rights issues

Our logic was simple: to minimize violence, increase opportunities. Since then, we have worked to provide career training, education, advocacy and support to empower individuals to overcome racism, poverty and injustice in a meaningful way.

On MLK Day, 220 of our employees celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering at organizations like the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Bottomless Toy Chest, Boys & Girls Club, Forgotten Harvest, Cass Community Social Services, Humble Design, Mariners Inn, St. Vincent DePaul, Detroit Rescue Mission and Arts & Scraps. Together, we provided more than 560 hours of service to the metro Detroit community.

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“It was really special to see all of Focus: HOPE donate their MLK Day to serve others in our community,” said Jennifer Presley, Event & Cause Marketing Manager, Focus: HOPE. “It was an amazing MLK Day and was a reminder as to what MLK Day should really be all about.”

As an organization, we have laid a foundation for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. We have given people the tools they need to rise, and have provided what was so desperately needed all along: hope.

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