Devvyn Holloway

 

Learning how to cope with the distractions of poverty and violence is crucial to succeeding in a place like Chester, Pa., where shootings and robberies are virtually a daily occurrence.

Devvyn Holloway, a senior at Chester High School, is committed to succeeding in school and in life. In part because of the attention he has received from the Blueprints Youth Empowerment program, he has learned how to keep his head down and stay focused on graduating high school and going to college.

Blueprints is a year-round youth development program that provides a range of academic, cultural and social services to low-income students in the Chester Upland School District. Students selected for the program participate throughout their high school years in after-school programs. They meet three days a week during the academic year, twice-a-month on Saturdays, three days a week in a July summer camp and participate in a summer work experience. Program participants are expected to complete an average of 500 hours in Blueprints programs and receive a stipend for their time.

“It’s a really good program with a lot of benefits,” Holloway says. “You’ll learn, gain friends and make new relationships. You’ll pick up life lessons, you’ll be able to make better decisions and you’ll be able to stay out of the negativity.”

Through Blueprints, Holloway has attended an African American cultural enrichment program, written poetry and participated in drumming sessions, all at Swarthmore College. He has visited a museum in New York City, taken yoga, seen a theater production of “The Lion King” in Philadelphia, worked at a local Boys and Girls Club, attended college admissions test preparation sessions and received assistance in filling out college applications.

Holloway says Blueprints is especially important for students in his school.

“They’re reaching out because generations are getting lost in the streets and fighting and killing,” he says. “They’re getting into violence and being in the wrong place at the wrong time because they have nothing to do – they’re so bored that they get caught up in dumb things.”

Blueprints has an impressive record of results. Now in its third funding cycle, 100 percent of the 35-40 students in the last cohort graduated high school and were college bound.

Holloway is one of those success stories. He will be attending the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where he expects to double major in music ministry and theology, and minor in media engineering, which includes production, sound effects and mixing. His focus on music has been fueled by his participation in several Gospel ensembles, including his own family’s ensemble.

When asked how Blueprints has affected him most, Holloway says it has taught him to be humble.

“By humble, I mean being patient, being smarter with things, making more intellectual decisions,” he explains. “Sometimes you may have to be humble enough just to be quiet and know when not to say something, even when you know you are right and someone else is wrong.”