WARREN, YOUNGSTOWN – When Denzel Stevens, a junior telecommunications student at Youngstown State University, received a special call from Deryck Toles, founder & CEO of Inspiring Minds, he was speechless. Through Ohio’s GIVE Back. GO Forward. volunteer program, Stevens had been gifted free tuition vouchers for six college credits.
The GIVE Back. GO Forward. program was founded in 2015 to provide new opportunities to connect generations through volunteerism. GIVE Back. GO Forward. – a partnership between the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Ohio Department of Aging, Mature Services, Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College, Inspiring Minds and Mahoning Valley United Way – offers Ohioans ages 60+ who volunteer 100 hours with designated nonprofits the opportunity to earn free three-credit tuition vouchers at YSU or EGCC. They can use these free vouchers for themselves, family, friends or community members.
William Henderson, a longtime volunteer at Inspiring Minds, chose to donate his free tuition vouchers to a former Inspiring Minds student, Denzel Stevens.
“Words cannot describe how much it means to me that people believe in me and value my education this much,” said Stevens, who is currently paying for his YSU education with scholarships and financial aid. “These free credits take a lot of stress off of me now, and in the future.”
To qualify as full-time at YSU, a student must take 12 credits per semester. The voucher donation from Henderson will cover up to half of a semester for Stevens.
Stevens is expected to graduate December 2017 and plans to pursue a career in voice acting.
Henderson said deciding to donate the vouchers back to Inspiring Minds was an easy decision. “Inspiring Minds has become part of my family over the years, and I’m going to take advantage of any way that I can help the kids in our community,” he said.
Stevens said he would like to thank everyone involved for the opportunity to continue his education with these vouchers, specifically Inspiring Minds.
“Inspiring Minds showed me that my future was full of possibilities; they took me on college visits, helped me find my career path, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
“While Inspiring Minds serves students in grades K-12, our relationships with our students don’t stop after they graduate high school,” Toles said. “The GIVE Back. GO Forward. program is just another way we can help our students become strong, successful members of society.”
YSU President Jim Tressel added, “GIVE Back. GO Forward. represents a unique partnership to help reduce the cost of higher education. We look forward to watching Denzel proceed through school, graduate and become the next great YSU success story. Congratulations to Denzel and a big thank you to William for his generosity and continuing efforts to advance the youth of the Mahoning Valley.”