Inspiring Minds celebrates student achievements

LIBERTY — Warren G. Harding High School senior Danajah Coleman said her six years being with Inspiring Minds has helped change her life.

“Inspiring Minds has really helped prepare me for my future. It has been an important part of my life,” she said, noting she was in seventh grade when she began attending the programs.

Coleman, who plans to study psychology and communication in college, was among several area students recognized at the Inspiring Minds 12th annual fundraising banquet held at the Metroplex Expo Center in Liberty.

Local seniors were presented scholarships totaling $18,000, including six scholarships to Kent State University at Trumbull in Champion.

Goals set at the gala are to help each student in the Inspiring Minds program to have a mentor, someplace to go and access to tutors after school.

“We want each student to be what they want to be,” Deryck Toles, founder of Inspiring Minds, said.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said, “We are grateful for this organization and for the work that they do shaping young minds.”

He said Toles overcame challenges in his own life to start the successful organization.

“He came back home and birthed a new idea and has acted on the ideas and surrounded himself with really good people. He galvanized resources. He has made a difference in many young lives,” Franklin said.

Franklin said the summer enrichment program in collaboration with Warren City Schools and the Wean Foundation is held each summer. He said the city is contributing $20,000 to the program.

He said the city is also collaborating with Inspiring Minds, Warren City Schools, Wean Foundation and other groups for the “We are Warren Initiative” new career development program which will kick off this summer.

“The program will pair recent high school graduates and college students with local companies based on career interests. The students will be placed in paid positions for eight to 12 weeks in the summer. This is a true strategy for career development,” he said.

Event organizers said a goal is to retain the talent of young educated people in the community.

Franklin said there is always the concern of the “brain drain” when young people leave the area because they believe they see no future here.

“It is time to change that. We want our young people to stay here with their fresh ideas. This will help our city to grow and be vibrant,” Franklin said.

Event organizers said society tells young people to dream big and be whatever they want to be. Franklin said it is important to show there are opportunities for talented professionals in the community.

“Deryck showed it takes effort to make a difference and to invest in our community,” he said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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