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Partnership Puts Nonprofit Helping D.C.’s Black Youth on National Stage

November 18, 2013 – Georgetown’s yearlong partnership with a local organization that serves as a lifeline for marginalized black male youth in Northeast Washington, D.C., has resulted in both support from the university and national attention.

Since awarding its 2013 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award to Mary Brown – executive director and co-founder of Life Pieces to Masterpieces – this past January, the university has provided intensive support to the organization’s curriculum and strategic planning.

Just last week, Katie Couric’s daytime talk show, Katie, came to Georgetown to highlight the work Life Pieces is doing in the city’s Ward 8 for its “Challenge for Change” series, which invites communities to help nonprofit organizations.

A Broader Audience

“We’re very excited and thrilled, and truly thankful to have this kind of national platform,” says Mary Brown about the show, which airs Nov. 21. “There are amazing young men who really are growing into global citizens and using adversities as fuel to propel them to this place of shared humanity. Hopefully, this will cast a different light on black men and boys coming from marginalized communities.”

Life Pieces uses art and academics to teach character development, integrity and leadership skills to hundreds of African-American boys and young men, ages 8-25.

“Through this award, Georgetown has given us further validation that we’re on the right track and has allowed us to share our mission with a much broader audience,” Brown explains. “I believe this partnership with Georgetown shows that the university is committed to seeing positive change in D.C.”

A Visionary Organization

When the university announced Brown’s award last year, Georgetown President John. J. DeGioia called her  “a visionary who saw a need for an organization to empower young people in our nation’s capital.”

The university is now the site for Life Pieces’ Saturday Academy – offered twice a month to support writing, career development and other life skills for the nonprofit organization’s students attending high school.

Academic Brain Trust

“Georgetown, being a brain trust of academia and research, has been able to help us think through our academic curriculum,” Brown says. “The university has helped us think through strategic planning that can provide us with some of the most cutting-edge research on black teens graduating from high school and going to universities.”

Georgetown students also serve at Life Pieces as volunteers, interns and staff members.

“Every Georgetown student who has come into our doors has been stellar and prepared, and they’ve made amazing contributions,” Brown says. “They also come in being very compassionate, and they reverently look at the social dilemmas that we struggle with here at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.”

Lauralyn Lee, Georgetown’s associate vice president for community engagement, says although the year is coming to an end, the substantive partnerships developed will continue, as will the university's special relationship with Life Pieces.

“Georgetown has benefited tremendously from this partnership, and the opportunity to build this and future partnerships as part of the Legacy of a Dream Award is wonderful way to live out the university's Catholic and Jesuit values, ” Lee says. “We look forward to continuing our work with Mary.”