Excuse me while I scream with excitement.

I’ve entered the final round of my first-ever blogging competition! I’ve been blogging for five years and have never been moved to actually blog to win a contest. But throw out the words inner-city youth, international travel (Barbados!), good cause and writing, and I’m all in.

Atlantic Impact is a Detroit based non-profit who works with Detroit high school students for three years beginning their sophomore year.  The organization provides year-round programming through workshops, after school sessions and international travels. Through the focus on international travels Atlantic Impact’s goal is to empower students to think critically about their own communities and global ones. With all the resources and travel abroad opportunities Atlantic Impact provides them over the years, these students from some of the most dangerous ‘hoods in the country become college ready high school graduates.

The Detroit high schoolers attending the trip attend the bottom 5 percent of the worst performing schools in their state. All of the students receive either free or reduced lunch. Most come from single parent households; and none of them have a single family member who has traveled out of the country. Because of their environments they have a difficult time with their academics as well as life in general. But with Atlantic Impact’s commitment to taking them abroad they’ll have the chance to see life outside of their blocks, ‘hoods and cities.

Let’s be clear: These students are not to be pathologized. Many of them are brilliant. They just don’t have the resources to excel that students from more privileged backgrounds do.

Here’s why I need your help: it’s a competition. The blogger who raises the most money has a guaranteed spot on the trip. The importance of me being on the trip is for students to be able to interact with someone who has had so many life, education and professional experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. It’s really a short mentorship over the course of the 10 day trip. By being on the trip I’ll also be able to help them understand the importance of traveling abroad and how it can impact their lives. The students will journal what they did and what they learned and present to their classmates when they return home. Hopefully this will inspire their peers from the same failing schools, from the same neighborhoods, to think outside the box.

I’m excited the chance to travel with the students because I’ve literally been traveling abroad since I was six months old. St. Maarten was one of my very first trips overseas. And I haven’t stopped traveling since. From Venezuela to Cayman Islands to Mexico to St. Kitts to Jamaica to Tokyo, it’s been adventure after adventure. Traveling expands your perspective, makes you appreciate other cultures, fuels your imagination, allows you to dream bigger. If there’s anything I know from working in NY public schools and NYC charter schools it’s that students are eager to learn and be exposed to new experiences as long as the opportunity is there. Barbados for them is the trip that will ignite a fire inside these students’ bellies and reinforce the idea that their dreams are valid. Word to Lupita.

I’m hoping you’re as excited as I am to help me raise money for a good cause!

The goal is $2,500, but the more the merrier. Since Atlantic Impact is a non-profit all donations are tax-deductible. The money donated goes directly to Atlantic Impact who in turn uses the funds for international programming (travel related costs like flights, accommodations, food, insurance, activities), technology and school supplies.

No amount is too small. Please spread the word via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, email and text. I’ll be sending out personal shoutouts on Twitter as well. The deadline is June 9, 2014.

Thank you so much for taking this journey with me! Whether it’s through donations, words of encouragement or just posting to social media, I am so grateful for your support. Now, let’s go! #TeamBené

For more info visit: http://atlanticimpact.org/

To donate go to https://www.crowdrise.com/benedoingitfortheyouth/fundraiser/beneviera or see below.

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise