The Foundation of Hope provides vital economic and empowerment skills to Easton Girls
Written by Alison Pappas | Photography courtesy The Foundation of HOPE
The Foundation of HOPE, Inc. provides female students at Easton Middle School with the opportunity to take part in a comprehensive 16-week program that is focused on economic development and empowerment. Founder Keasha Haythe, CEcD, pulled from her 23 years of professional economic development experience to create the program’s detailed week-by-week curriculum.
Week one concentrates on helping the girls enrolled in the program with growing their self-esteem and identifying how best to handle bullying. By week eight, the girls are learning financial literacy through budgeting and money management. By the time they have reached the final week, they have gained a solid foundation in entrepreneurship, community involvement and workforce preparedness, which helps ensure they are on a long-term path to success.
“The real lesson that we teach the girls is to prepare them to be independent and selfsufficient,” expressed Haythe.
At the end of the program, the girls present a final project — consisting of either a business plan or vision board — to family, friends, and volunteers. Upon receiving their certificate at a special ceremony, the program graduates are rewarded with a trip to an amusement park of their choosing. Last year’s selection was Hersheypark.
Importantly, The Foundation of HOPE’s efforts and involvement in the participants’ lives doesn’t stop when the program concludes.
“I stay in touch with their guidance counselors, and we follow them through high school to make sure that the girls graduate on time,” shared Haythe.
While the program was only available to sixth graders in the past, The Foundation of HOPE is excited to share that they will be opening it up to seventh and eighth graders as well. In addition, the organization recently expanded its efforts by offering a summer enrichment program. In its inaugural summer, this program hosted a two-day trip to Washington, D.C. with visits to the White House and National Archives Museum.
“We’re really trying to expose them to educational opportunities outside of the Eastern Shore,” shared Haythe.
The Foundation of HOPE is currently engaged in a capital campaign to construct a physical Hope Center in Easton. The future structure will house various programs, training, and learning opportunities for youth and adults in the Talbot County community. The project is expected to break ground in 2024, and currently, the organization is working to raise the remaining funding.
If you are interested in supporting The Foundation of HOPE, head to FoundationofHopeMaryland.org to learn more about upcoming events and donation opportunities. Notably, the organization is preparing for its Women of Hope Gala, which will take place on December 9, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge. The gala will honor several nominees, including Dr. Mary DeShields, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., Kappa Theta Omega Chapter, St. Mark’s Women’s Fellowship and the first Foundation of HOPE scholarship recipient, Lilyanna Cook. CS