Academy Helps Break The Cycle Of Poverty

Education has been called the key to advancement.

Getting that key and opening the door has been somewhat problematic for some.

The Whitney Young academy helps unlock that door for African-Americans in our community.

It's a program that helps minorities reach their potential.

Nali Knight is emerging from the shadows of her youth looking forward to a bright future.

"I'm just a very nurturing person," she said. "I want to be a neo natal nurse."

The Central High grad is now a full time nursing student at UNO.

Her academic success came from within, but she's had some help.

"My involvement in my extra curricular activities kind of helped me to grow academically as well, she said."

Nali spent a lot of time at the Urban League's Whitney Young Jr. Academy.

"It's like a home, it's like a family," she said. "It just instilled in me a sense of self a sense of knowledge and a sense of importance. And it just helped me to do different activities get involved in my community and meet lots of great people."

Whitney Young was the national leader of the Urban League in the 1950s. He was a major player in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

To Young, education equaled a ticket to success.
Tom Warren has seen first hand the benefits of education.

As a former Omaha Police Chief, he's seen plenty of the bad things that can happen.

Now the Urban League of Nebraska's Executive Director, he believes many just need a little help to break the cycle of poverty.

"Education is the key to changing your life chances and really putting yourself on a trajectory toward making yourself successful in life," he said. "We know that we have to invest in education we have to make sure our kids are equipped so that they can become productive citizens."

Nali Knight is living proof.

"You are not your circumstances, you are not your surroundings," she said. "You have to learn how to push through things."

The Urban League of Nebraska works with nearly 600 kids in the metro area through several programs...200 of them are in the Whitney Young Academy.

The academy helps students prepare for ACT tests, fill out paper work for financial aid and grants, and make the transition to a career.

A $1,000 college scholarship is also given to graduates.

The academy is funded through the United Way of the Midlands.

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