Fundraising breakfast fuels livelihood for Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars

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Jesuit Father Edward Reese encourages guests at the "Success Starts with Hope Breakfast" April 20 to support the privately-funded work of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona. Its junior high, high school and college scholars are proving their past doesn't determine their future.  (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Jesuit Father Edward Reese encourages guests at the “Success Starts with Hope Breakfast” April 20 to support the privately-funded work of Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona. Its junior high, high school and college scholars are proving their past doesn’t determine their future. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

It wasn’t just the most important meal of the day to fortify the hours ahead. It provided a livelihood.

The “Success Starts with Hope Breakfast” gathered men and women throughout the community who believe that junior high and high school students, regardless of their socio-economic background, can succeed if challenged and given the right setting. They filled a ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore April 20 to mingle with largely Catholic school students and alumni who are proving them right.

Some appeared via video testimony alongside a parent or two. Others briefly enlivened table discussion before Jesuit Father Edward Reese dismissed them to catch the start of second period.

The students are thriving thanks to equal support of their family, peers and the Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona community. It’s the latter who will use funds raised at the benefit breakfast to provide for the 90 students in the nonprofit’s care. Most are part of its community-based programs with 16 of them living in a pair of residential homes.

Boys Hope Girls Hope is a network of 15 U.S. and three Latin American sites that prepare academically capable young people — referred to as scholars — to thrive in school, their career and life. Youth participate in self-development and academic programming while attending area Catholic schools and receive support through college completion.

A Jesuit priest established the model nearly 40 years ago with the Arizona affiliate coming on board in 1989. Each one is privately funded from the local community.

Boys Hope Girls Hope is living proof it taking a village to raise a child. Thousands of Arizona individuals, foundations and corporations ensure each scholar’s tuition is fully covered. Beyond that, they serve as extended family by hosting dinner, supporting structured after-school programming and serving as drivers.

Alex Cano (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Alex Cano credits the courageous decision his mom made for him his eighth-grade year to have him join Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona for his successes that year, at Brophy College Preparatory and as a student graduating with a master’s degree from Arizona State University.  (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Alex Cano said the Boys Hope Girls Hope community was his cheer section for freshman football at Brophy College Preparatory, his parent figure that connected him with an academic tutor and will be his lifeline if he needs them down the road.

“You’re helping create the future champions of underprivileged communities,” Cano assured the breakfast guests. They proceeded to open their checkbooks or submit credit card numbers.

Cano joined the Boys Hope Girls Hope community in eighth grade. It was a huge adjustment, but worth the sacrifice, he said. Life at Brophy was equally challenging academically and spiritually. That paved the way to enrollment in the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University and the masters program in engineering and environmental studies. He will graduate in May.

Cano is now working on a cutting edge solar project and launching the first refugee code academy in the U.S. He wants to teach them enough skills in 12 weeks to make them employable. Cano is among seven four college graduates this year plus seven high school graduates and 11 eighth-graders advancing to a Catholic high school.

“Our staff and volunteers walk side by side with our scholars — okay, sometimes dragging, kicking and screaming — down a beautiful yet challenging road: the college road,” Amy Caffarello, executive director said. “Their dedication and ability to motivate, guide and hold accountable our scholars is astounding.”

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