Houston,TX – While many students shy away from hard work during their spring vacation, a growing number of young adults use their spring academic recess to embrace community goals aimed to serve a greater good. Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) are known to be selected based on the strength of their academic achievement and demonstrated leadership skills, yet acceptance of the Gates scholarship award also demands a commitment to service. This year’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) – to be held March 11th—16, 2018 – will bring nearly 60 Gates Scholars to serve various communities in Houston to help rebuild after the damage of Hurricane Harvey.
“The extent of Hurricane Harvey ’s devastating impact on families and communities within Houston is well documented, We see it in our news feeds daily. We have the option to be comfortable in our own reality or roll up our sleeves, serve, and be a positive light for the families, and communities impacted. We chose to serve, it’s in our DNA and it is a responsibility we have and one we do with great pride.” said Kelvin Harris, Director for UNCF’s Leadership Development Programs. “As recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, it is expected that Scholars use their gifts, talents, and privileges to give back and impact the lives of others.”
ASB engages current Gates Scholars in community-based service projects, focused on education and public health issues. These opportunities offer first-hand knowledge of issues facing local communities. Past service projects have made use of students for cleanup efforts from Hurricane Katrina and also with educational endeavors at the Native American College Academy.
For ASB 2018, Gates Scholars will volunteer with long-term housing recovery throughout the greater Houston area, participating in full-service days followed by dinner and discussion until their departure on Saturday, March 17th. During this time, Scholars will directly impact the Houston community through the following service efforts:
• Facilitating service sites at Rebuilding Houston, Garden Kids of Kemah, Houston Foodbank, Center for Missional Excellence with TACUMC
• Working to man phone banks
• Volunteering with home restoration and clean-up in Harvey affected areas
• Organizing and distributing supplies to service agencies and surveying neighborhoods
GMS program organizers began ASB in 2009, in alliance with the United Way of America. The pilot ASB featured three Scholars who joined service projects in Detroit, Gulfport (MS) and Terre Haute (IN). Subsequent partners have been United Way Worldwide and HandsOn Bay Area. This year’s service agencies include Rebuilding Houston, the Houston Food Bank, Garden Kids of Kemah, and United Methodist Church.
For more information, please visit www.gmsp.org.
About The Gates Millennium Scholars Program:
The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program was established in 1999 through a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. GMS aims to educate “Leaders for America’s Future”™ by providing eligible students with the opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in the discipline of their choice and continue through to a doctoral degree in seven GMS funded fields. Thanks to a range of financial, academic and leadership support, Gates Scholars have an average graduation rate that exceeds that of the overall college population and mirrors the graduation rate of students from high-income families.