Guiding the Journey serves a population that our community often overlooks: under-served African youth. Young African immigrants and American-born children of immigrants (second-generation immigrants), often walk a fine line of biculturalism where traditional programs fail to understand the distinct values of African cultures and accommodate the challenges that come with balancing these values in an American system.High School Juniors receive academic, social, and college preparatory support, and significant opportunities for leadership and civic engagement through our Summer Journey Program Culturally and linguistically appropriate services for these youngsters are all too rare. Our goal is to provide a nurturing environment and culturally sensitive guidance so that each child we serve will be a contributing member of his or her community. Our programs currently serve students in the Washington DC metropolitan area who represent more than 6 African ethnicities.
With minimal education and limited English proficiency, their immigrant parents are often relegated to long hours at low-paying jobs – so guiding their children to the best resources, are daunting tasks. Guiding the Journey makes sure these youngsters don't fall through the cracks. Studies show that cultural heritage and identity may be a source of behaviors and values that support educational attainment, economic success, and personal health which can also provide African immigrants with a sense of individual self-esteem, and promote greater civic engagement.
Guiding the Journey was founded in 2007 by Janet Asante Sullivan and Clarissa Bannor. With reasons born out of personal experiences and a passion for leading change, strengthening identity, and exploring history, Clarissa and Janet were inspired by the people, ideas, and organizations who made personal impacts on their own lives growing up as first-generation Ghanaian Americans.As home to more than 1.2 million African-born African immigrants and even more American-born children of African immigrants, Clarissa and Janet hope to impart a sense of cultural pride while reconciling issues of identity in Washington DC's, "second-generation African immigrant" population—American-born children of African immigrants. Guiding the journey is their unique, culturally sensitive, and fresh approach to overcoming barriers to personal and educational achievement in vulnerable youth. As Clarissa puts it, "We've been there, and we still struggle with navigating a world where you're not quite American nor completely African. But we know how to navigate the college admissions process, and through that experience we can help kids in our program learn to accept their differences, identify their strengths and reach for the stars."
Studies show that cultural heritage and identity may be a source of behaviors and values that support educational attainment, economic success, and personal health which can also provide African immigrants with a sense of individual self-esteem, and promote greater civic engagement.
Contributions made to Guiding the Journey, a 501 (c) (3) organization, is fully tax-deductible as allowed by law.
Funding comes from generous, private donations from individuals, foundations, congregations, and corporations who share our vision of youth development, community engagement, and leadership. Our largest expense is the Summer Journey Program, which costs approximately $20,000.
There is no charge for participation in Guiding the Journey’s program, and students are selected without regard to financial status.
Guiding the Journey is a summer-long program, from June after students’ junior year to August right before their senior year.
Guiding the Journey accepts up to twenty-four students, equally divided between females and males, each year.
Applications are accepted between September and May, and student interviews take place in May. Only students who submit their completed application by the deadline will be considered for an interview. (Please see the “Get Involved” section of our website for more information.) Students are notified of their acceptance into the program within the week after their interviews.
GtJ recruits African juniors from all over the Washington metropolitan area. Students must have demonstrated leadership potential, inquisitiveness, maturity, and commitment to their community, as well as excellent communications skills. Our students attend a variety of public, private and charter schools in the greater Washington area and come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.
Nearly 150 students and their families have directly participated in GtJ's innovative programming, and, through our outreach efforts, over 350 students and adults have participated in fulfilling our overall goal—linking community advancement through personal success.
GtJ supports underserved African youth with educational empowerment, identity development, and leadership opportunities through experiential education programs. We are the leading community organization that provides educational enrichment and youth development programs to underserved "second-generation" African immigrant youth in the Washington, D.C., metro area.