Wayne & Kit Danley $500,000 Matching Endowment Scholarship
Over the years, the Wayne & Kit Danley Scholarship has impacted many lives, providing opportunities for post high school/college and university education and a chance at success in life. This post introduces you to Neighborhood Ministries’ first ever endowment, for this scholarship.
Our goal is to raise $500,000 to be matched dollar for dollar, building the endowment’s inauguration to $1,000,000. We will announce the progress toward completion at our December 3rd Big Event.
This scholarship has impacted many over the years, but to fully understand this scholarship’s impact, listen to Juan Cisneros, a WKDS recipient and current volunteer here at Neighborhood Ministries. His story is powerful, and I want to share it with you in his own words…
“My name is Juan Carlos Cisneros Suarez, and I was born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. I was born with a birth defect where my chest caves into my chest, and throughout time it has gotten worse and put more pressure on my heart and lungs. The doctors in Mexico thought I was a lost cause because I would grow up going through many chest pains without them being able to do anything, they even said it would have been better for me if I had died so that I didn’t have to suffer. For that reason, my mom got us a visa so that we could come to the United States and get help. And for a while we would go back and forth so that I would get checked out and so that I could get all my vaccinations.
The visit would continue until my 7th birthday when my mom said she had a special present for me; turns out we were moving to the United States. My mom said we were leaving so I could have a better life, a better education, and access to proper medical care. Later I asked her if it was really why we left and she said it was partially the reason. The other reason was because she was running away from my abusive father and the violence from the cartels. We came here on June 24th, 2007 and stayed with my aunt for a while until her husband was deported. I have been studying here since second grade where I entered a bit late in the semester but wanted to fit in so badly that I learned English in about a month. Ever since entering second grade all the way to 8th grade, I maintained straight A’s; I was trying my best to do well.
It was all going perfectly, getting perfect grades, being involved in leadership activities at my school, and doing robotics. That was until my 8th grade promotion ceremony, where a classmate’s mother came up to me and asked why I was trying so hard to do well in school, because I would not be able to go to college or get a job due to my undocumented status. That stung, I always knew I was undocumented, but I thought that through my efforts I would be able to make it here, not even once thinking that my status would hold me back. I ended up going to a high school notorious for their difficulty, high academic success, graduation rate, and most importantly, acceptance into top level Universities.
The school’s difficulty plus the mental scar I had from my 8th grade ceremony mentally destroyed me, and so were my grades. The constant thought of what I was going to do when applying to universities, and what I would do if I somehow managed to graduate from a university added to my difficulties. Eventually everything culminated into sophomore year where I thought things would be better if I killed myself. So, one day after school I went to the tallest building I could go to and got on the ledge trying to jump off. As I got onto the ledge, I stared down at the passing cars and thought about my family in Mexico, and my mom. I thought about all that she had given for me to have a better life, and in that slight moment of hesitation I was saved. A classmate happened to have gone to the same building and saw me on the ledge, so he started talking to me. I connected with him seeing that he was undocumented and how he did not let that get to him; instead of seeing his status as a limitation, he saw it as motivation.
Through my newfound friendship I started working on my grades and improving in the ways I could. I even got the motivation to go back and do robotics. I wanted to find a way to give back to redeem myself after almost committing suicide, so I started working with a non-profit that helped undocumented students get a higher education. Through the non-profit, not only was I able to get more scholarships and financial help, but I could feel like I was repaying the world, for saving my life. So, I continued working with that non-profit for 4+ years, meeting state officials, doing interviews with news outlets, and even meeting with the US Secretary of Education. Eventually we were able to introduce a bill to the state ballot that would allow undocumented students to get instate tuition and access to state scholarships.
Through the non-profit I was introduced to the Wayne and Kit Danley Scholarship. I then applied, hoping to get the scholarship so that I wouldn’t need to continue paying my tuition out of pocket. I received the scholarship and through that I started volunteering at Neighborhood Ministries in their tech room teaching kids how to 3d print and design their own stuff. I have found that to be very rewarding since I get to give others the opportunity to learn some engineering without having to worry about any limitations. Now, I plan to graduate with a degree in computer science and looking to a bright future. Thanks to the Wayne & Kit Danley Scholarship for helping in making my dream of attending college.”
Life-changing stories like Juan’s are not possible without the Wayne & Kit Danley Endowment Scholarship.
You have been so generous to this important endeavor in the past and we are extremely grateful. To date, we have raised $225,000 and need $275,000 more to reach our goal.
Would you prayerfully consider giving again, so another young person like Juan can make a difference in our community?
Don’t forget, any gift given also qualifies for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Single filers can give up to $400 and couples filing jointly can give up to $800 and receive every penny back as a tax credit. PLUS, your gift today is DOUBLED thanks to our matching challenge!
Your gift of $100 doubles to $200! A gift of $500 becomes $1,000. Your tax credit gift of $400 becomes $800 and an $800 gift doubles to $1,600!