EVANSTON, Ill. (July 1, 2014) — In its inaugural year, which the group celebrated on June 15th, the Dajae Coleman Foundation (DC3F) made tremendous strides through its initiatives in educational excellence and community engagement through sports, driven by its mission to “Uplift, Encourage, Empower, and Reward” and make a meaningful impact in the lives of youth.
Created in memory of 14-year-old Evanston resident Dajae Coleman, the foundation is spearheaded by mother Tiffany Rice and inspired by a beliefs essay Dajae wrote for his freshman humanities class just days before he was shot and killed while innocently walking home from a party with friends. With seed money from the Forest Powell Foundation, the foundation quickly grew.
“The youth development work of the Dajae Coleman Foundation is a wonderful way to celebrate and remember the life of Dajae and is important to the Evanston community,” Said Kevin Brown, Community Services Manager for Parks, Recreation and Community Services for City of Evanston, who worked with DC3F in their first year. “The foundation has been a fantastic partner to the City and has been supportive of our goals to reach and develop Evanston at-risk youth and young adults.”
One of the foundation’s biggest events was its 1st Annual DaeDaeWorld Weekend, a three-day event that promoted the core values that shaped Dajae’s life: family support, determination and positive social interactions. The weekend kicked off with open mic performances and a gallery of creative expressions used to communicate neighbors’ feelings after Dajae’s death. Throughout the last two days, there were basketball training workshops, and a friendly basketball game between Dajae’s long-time friends, family and coaches.
The 2nd annual DaeDaeWorld Weekend will be held September 19th and 20th and will focus on the theme, “Living Well is Essential to Your Potential” with a variety of events and activities centered on fitness and wellness.
Additionally, DC3F partnered with the EPFB Academic Program, which promotes educational accountability for student athletes. The program requires each student to maintain a C average or better, and offered tutoring sessions during the sports season.
Aside from sports, DC3F also awarded two $1000 Dajae Coleman Achievement Awards to two Evanston Township High School freshmen students for their leadership capabilities and ability to honor the values articulated by Dajae’s life and ethics. The recipients were chosen by ETHS humanities teachers, and the money will be applied towards their college education.
Another facet of the foundation’s tenet to empower youth through education came through increasing literacy and encouraging pleasure reading, thus celebrating Dajae’s enthusiasm for reading, with its Summer Reading Initiative. This summer, in partnership with the Evanston Public Library, the program will feature the book “How Long Will I Cry” by Miles Harvey, a riveting collection of interviews from youth and others affected by Chicago violence. This program will include a mobile book club beginning Saturday, July 12 from 11 AM to 1PM at Heartwood Center, 1818 Dempster Street, and a theatrical adaptation performed in Evanston later in the summer with details forthcoming.
“I'm really looking forward to this summer's reading initiative and its innovative approach. The unorthodox style of this program sort of brands us, and it’s what we hope will help us to reach youth in our community,” said Dajae’s mother and DC3F founder, Tiffany Rice.
For its upcoming year, DC3F is looking to continue its active role in creating a college-bound readiness program which will be sponsored in part by a grant from the North End Mothers Club; starting to work with a Youth Advisory Board to put on movie nights and talent shows; and continue the traditions already set forth in its first year. Rice also hopes to implement a mentorship program for young girls ages 12-17, as well as partner with Caring Outreach by Parents in Evanston (COPE) for their charity bus program that will distribute free groceries throughout the community.
“It makes me proud to see so many good things happening in our community in Dajae’s name, and gives me hope for better things for everyone’s future. It’s like our upcoming Twitter campaign says, #DoItForDae,” said Rice.
The Dajae Coleman Foundation (DC3F) is a non-profit, community-based organization founded in 2013 to honor the legacy of Dajae A. Coleman, an exceptional young man who tragically lost his life to gun violence at the age of 14. DC3F provides Evanston’s youth with the opportunity to maximize their potential by creating an informed and mobilized environment, which aims to enhance their quality of life, and develop them into men and women of integrity. DC3F offers programs that motivate the youth and instill positive values that help to guide them. It is DC3F’s mission to uplift, encourage, empower, and reward our youth.