Vote online through Sept. 18 to support sophomore Yasmine Arrington’s scholarship program for teens with parents in prison.
Elon University sophomore Yasmine Arrington has been nominated on Black Entertainment Television’s website as a “M.A.D. (Making a Difference) Girl” for a nonprofit program she created to give college scholarships to high school students who are the children of incarcerated parents.
If Arrington gets enough votes through the BET website, she will receive a grant for her nonprofit, scholarCHIPS, along with an invitation to the fall taping of BET’s “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” televised showcase.
To vote for Arrington, a history and strategic communications double major at the university, visit www.bet.com/madgirls through Sept. 18. Web visitors can vote multiple times.
The native of Washington, D.C., is herself the daughter of a former prison inmate. For the better part of two decades, Arrington’s father was behind bars in Georgia, and she says she’s fortunate to have been able to reconnect with him now that his sentence is complete.
That didn’t make growing up any less difficult. Arrington was a freshman in high school when her mother died, leaving responsibility for Arrington and her two brothers to her grandmother. For Arrington, scholarCHIPS is a way to “break the cycle” that can thrive in homes where parents are absent.
Without positive role models, teenagers can get pregnant, or fall into a life of crime. “There are a lot of children and teenagers who have family members in prison, but you wouldn’t know it,” she said. “There aren’t that many statistics out there because it’s a taboo topic. With college, if you’re missing a parent, there’s then a financial gap.”
As founder of scholarCHIPS, where “CHIPS” stands for “Children of Incarcerated Parents,” Arrington is also a Jack Kent Cooke College Scholar, an Elon College Fellow, the fundraising and community service chair for the Gospel Choir at the university, and the public relations chair for the Black Cultural Society.
The organization for which the BET program is named, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., is a nonprofit whose mission is “youth empowerment and mentoring organization established to promote the arts for young women of color, as well as to encourage dialogue and analysis of the ways women of color are portrayed in the media.”
In addition to the M.A.D. Girl competition, Arrington is working with fellow Elon students Michael Spencer and Julie Ronecker to host a benefit concert at Elon to raise money for students in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The trio is applying to the Student Government Association for a grant to help support their philanthropic project.
Arrington said her hope is for musical groups across campus to come together for an evening of shows. The proceeds from ticket sales would benefit the scholarCHIPS program.