Forbes | February 9, 2016
Fifty-four to Sixty-four Rutgers Street. Eighteenth floor, Apartment G. This is the address of the housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where I first met David Heredia, my Little Brother. In 1987 David was a 10 year old boy from the Dominican Republic, and his neighborhood was infamous as the most heavily photographed crime scene in New York City. This was no small recognition given the crack epidemic ravaging our cities at the time.
I spent every Saturday with David. I was religious about it, and built a relationship with him that lasts to this day. David has four brothers, and at ten he had a passion for drawing and a dream of one day going to college. But the color of his skin, the bank balance of his mother, and the ZIP code he was born into didn’t make it easy for him. I remember attending a parent-teacher conference on behalf of his mother, who had to work that night. I asked David’s teacher about his progress in school, and the teacher responded by scratching his head, looking up at the ceiling, and wondering aloud, “Which one is David?”
David’s experience opened my eyes to the Opportunity Divide in America today. He had enormous talent and drive, but he needed some help to realize his potential. He didn’t need a handout, he needed a hand up. And David isn’t the only one. Millions of young adults across America are out of work and out of school, disconnected from the economic mainstream and up against the myriad challenges of poverty. As David became a part of my family, I couldn’t help but think of those young adults who shared the same drive but lack the opportunities to put it to good use.
Read the full article in Forbes.