Why Project RISE: Alumni and Parents Reflect

"Project RISE is synonymous with opportunity. The program has given me many opportunities that I would not have had. I grew up in the inner city without a father, dropped out of junior high school, and never envisioned success through education. I did not have many of the fundamentals of a basic education and therefore had low self-esteem and confidence. I lived a lifestyle that was detrimental to my life and society. Project RISE gave me the opportunity to overcome all of these things and any obstacles that I will face in the future. Project RISE instilled respect for myself and my community, enabling me to know that in every challenge there is opportunity to grow and succeed.

One of my most vivid memories of the program was when I struggled terribly with mathematics. A staff member sat down with me and told me I was a descendant of mathematicians and scientists like George Washington Carver and possessed the ability to succeed in mathematics. I was empowered from that day forward not only with an ability to succeed in math but in all studies. Project RISE helped me build character and become a positive role model for other youth who have similar circumstances. Project RISE gave me the opportunity to earn a full basketball scholarship to college, graduate in four years with a business degree, and own my home.

The program has also opened doors for me to work as a bank branch manager and now as an Assistant Director for Admissions for my alma mater, Siena College. I would have never had these opportunities if it was not for Project RISE. I owe all of my success now and in the future to all of the staff members of this program. "

Dale Taylor, Associate Director of Admissions, Siena College, Loudonville, NY and Project RISE graduate 

"When I was a kid from Dorchester dealing with with many of the hardships of living in the inner city and growing up in a underprivileged home, Mr. Dixon gave me the opportunity to reach the potential that only he saw in me. He exposed me to opportunities that I did not think possible; I credit him for all that I have accomplished in life. He has helped hundreds of inner-city kids understand that life is what you make of it, and that you can overcome any obstacle, regardless of where you are from. Being around Mr. Dixon has made it clear to me that Heroes and All-Stars are not just professional athletes but individuals doing extraordinary things for ordinary people. Mr. Dixon has been one of the most influential individuals not only in my life but also in the lives of countless youth in the Boston area."

Carmelo Travieso, former UMass basketball guard and Project RISE graduate

"When I started at Project RISE, I was doing well in school, but I had only been in the US for about three years. Project RISE was big in building the confidence I needed. I needed guidance because I had parents who were Dominican who didn’t know English and didn’t understand the American public school system. I think that this is a really cool space to find mentors, supporters, and friends."

Martha Pena ‘14, RISE alumna and graduate of Thayer Academy. She graduated from Northeastern University under the TORCH Scholarship Program. 

"A friend recommended Project RISE as I was looking for a summer program with an academic component. I immediately filled out the application because I did not want to miss the deadline. That summer, my son improved his math skills, participated in a musical performance at the closing ceremony, and received the coveted Project RISE Award. As a result of that positive experience, his self-esteem improved tremendously. When he returned to school, he was more confident in himself, actively participated in class, and was proud of the fact that he could answer the teacher’s questions because of what he had learned over the summer at Project RISE.

Over the last four years in the program, my son has received the leadership award, was a Counselor-in-Training, and enjoyed meeting new friends and choosing from the wide selection of extracurricular activities. I especially appreciate not only the academic and extracurricular components but the presence of African-American males in leadership and caring positions. This is important to me because my son is in a school setting where this is not the norm."

Angela Molyneaux, Project RISE parent

"I think Project RISE is a really good option for kids who might not be academically confident. You reinforce the things you learn in the school year, but you also learn advanced concepts. I loved the science classes we had; you do lots of cool experiments that you don’t get to do in school. I remember, after the first year, I was stronger in math, and also English. 

Project RISE exposed me to independent schools. I didn’t think that was an option at all because I come from a socioeconomic background where it’s not possible without aid. Mr. Dixon helped me to apply to Derby Academy, where I attended middle school. 

At Project RISE, a lot of the counselors were college students, so talking with them and learning about their paths to college was inspiring because they were people who looked like me. I was excited to learn about the things they were making happen for themselves."

Maria Pena, RISE alumna and graduate of Milton Academy. She currently attends Wellesley College.

Success in Higher Education

Since its inception in 1993, 170 Project RISE students have attended 4-year colleges such as:

Bentley College
Boston College
Boston University
Central Connecticut State University
Colgate University
Fisk University
George Washington University
Grambling State University
Hampton University
Harvard University
Holy Cross

Howard University
Loyola Maryland
Manhattan College
Morehouse College
Morgan State University
Mount Holyoke College
Northeastern University
Radford University
Scripps College
Siena College
Simmons University

Spelman College
Springfield College
Tufts University
UMASS Amherst
UMASS Boston
University of Maryland
University of New Hampshire 
Wentworth Institute
Wheelock College