College-Bound Soccer “Family” Needs Bucks

After six years as a tutor, soccer coach, and “older sister” to 13 immigrant and refugee boys, Lauren Mednick is ready to see the last four off to college—if she can raise $35,000.

Mednick (pictured with Mu’ammar Camara) runs Elm City Internationals, a mentoring program for immigrant kids that has soccer as its focus. The kids come from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

The labor of love has made Mednick for six years the nearly constant companion of 13 boys from five countries. She started working with them when they were in the seventh and eighth grades, after she found that soccer was the key to motivating them to achieve in school.

Her hard work, and theirs, has paid off. Last year, half the boys graduated high school and went off to college, all with GPAs above 3.0, and several with scholarships for athletics or academics. The boys also took out the maximum allowed federal loans, and worked through the summer to save money.

Still, there was a gap. To bridge it, Mednick started a scholarship fund and raised $17,500 in donations.

All the guys in college are doing well, she said. Two made it onto a semi-pro soccer team called CFC Azul.

This year, a second group is graduating high school and headed off to college. Mednick finds herself with twice the need she had last year—$35,000.

“Right now we have $12,000,” she said. “All from individual donations.”

She said she’s committed to making college a reality for all members of Elm City Internationals. “It’s a promise we’ve made to the kids.”

Mednick said she needs to raise all the money by April 29, “because the kids need to commit to college at some point.”

She’s collecting donations through the Elm City Internationals website.

Mednick is planning a “thank you concert” for March 26 at O’Toole’s on Orange Street. Her dad, Steve Mednick, will be playing with his band Hard Road. There will be no cover. Elm City Internationals will be accepting donations in any amount.

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posted by: Brutus2011 on March 18, 2013  3:19pm

Fabulous article and story.

This is why I am so in favor of the bottom-up approach to public education.

Imagine the innovation and creativity to be unleashed when we truly realize that leadership is a subset of service and not that service is a subset of leadership.

And it will cost a lot less to boot.