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The first thing you notice about Victory is his wonderful smile. It’s an immediate indication of the person he is: warm and well-mannered with an adventurous spirit. “When I was two or three, my mom started calling me ‘the wandering man’ because I would always follow my brothers and sisters and never sit still.”

 I met Victory at the Hub, Urban Ventures’ tricked out meeting place for its high school youth program. Victory “Vic” Spencer Trent George quietly and thoughtfully, yet easily told me about his life. He is one of 12 children raised by a caring, tenacious, single mom. We laughed as he struggled to remember the ages of all his siblings. At 15, he is the second youngest child.

Growing up in the George household was difficult at times. “There were so many people in the house!” But Vic’s mom, Patricia, somehow kept things going as they moved from place to place. Victory tears up when he talks about his mom. “She would smile and make like everything was happy, but I could see on her face that she had her own struggles. We may not have gotten Christmas presents, but she gave us as much as she could.” 

And they spoke of the Bible. Patricia could “talk for an hour” about Jesus. He listened with interest, but couldn’t resolve his surroundings with a loving God. “How can God allow the people He created to to suffer?” 

Enter a substitute teacher who urged Vic to attend Urban Ventures’ Young Life. His adventurous spirit kicked in and he decided to try it. “Right off I could feel the atmosphere. It’s so loving and chill.”

 "They [friends at UV youth club] don’t try to break bonds."

 "They [friends at UV youth club] don’t try to break bonds."

Friendships formed at Urban Ventures are important to Victory. “They make you feel comfortable. They don’t try to break bonds.” Attending summer camp helped Vic with his questions about God. “The counselors at camp helped me see that little things help the big issues—little things showed me He [God] is real.”

In ninth grade, around the same time Vic started attending Young Life, he began to take school more seriously. He had been a class clown, a troublemaker who liked to make people laugh. “I do enjoy making people laugh, but now I do it in a more productive way.”

The role of education in Victory’s life is core. He understands that education is his key to the future. He wants to get a degree in political science, and beyond that work with youth to “grow the future for the future.” Caring for his mom at home, making friends at Urban Ventures, studying hard at school, or working with youth in the future, that smile clearly beams out the message—with a supportive community a victory story is possible in any neighborhood.

Just $75/month supports a youth like Victory.


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Empathy. We all have it to varying degrees. Perhaps a deeper understanding comes from shared experience. Urban Ventures’ poverty simulation provides just that by having participants “live” a 90-minute month as a family on a very limited budget.   

Around the outer area of the room tables are set up in “life stations,” such as housing, job, childcare, transportation, healthcare, food. Strangers sit quietly side-by-side before the game begins, quickly bonding as families of five are formed.

Families are given member roles, worksheets, money, and a time limit to make it to all stations. The goal of the exercise is to make it through the month with money left over. But as in real life, there are unexpected situations. Twice during the exercise each family deals with the unforeseen: a job loss, car repair, or illness.

What started out as a fun game quickly turns into serious business. The facilitator gives hints and second chances as she goes from family to family checking on progress.

Bits of decision-making discussions are hurriedly taking place.  “This is so stressful!” “We just don’t have enough money to buy a car.” 

When the “month” is over,  reactions are varied. Some families end with a tiny bit of money left over; those families are calm and knowing. Some families had several tough breaks: no extended family to help with childcare, one family member had to work two full-time jobs, another chose housing over transportation and lost a job due to an impossible commute. Those families are a bit disconcerted and become circumspect.

The simulation moves participants from theoretical empathy to deeper understanding. “The light bulb goes on for many [exercise participants],” says Kyle Boyes, facilitator.  “People aren’t ‘poor’ because they are lazy or somehow less capable, but because there is this crazy network of circumstantial and structural obstacles that make it really hard to move ahead.” 

THE NEXT POVERTY SIMULATION IS JUNE 22. 

Open to the public   I   Free   I  RSVP Online or Call 612.545.9843


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"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Martin Luther King Jr. gave us these words to inspire and move us to action—teaching us that engaging in someone else’s experience is a benefit to oneself. In an age when individualism seems to be the default approach to living, many of us long for a shared experience —a community, an extended family if you will,  with which to identify and be supported.

At Urban Ventures, understanding and addressing the needs of our community members has never been as vital as with many of our first- generation families.    

One such need is providing clarity and guidance regarding changing immigration laws, both locally and nationally. 

In March, Urban Ventures hosted attorneys from local organizations who answered questions, as well as a family therapist who coached the children on how to manage stress and emotions during uncertain times.

Over 300 participants came to listen and ask questions about their rights, children’s security and the current culture. “Just like every parent; we need to know our children will be taken care of.”             

Contact 612.545.9863 for ways to help.


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New Faces in Leadership 

URBAN VENTURES ACT SIX SCHOLARSHIPS ARE CHANGING THE GAME FOR FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS

Act Six is an urban leadership development and mentoring program administered in the Twin Cities by Urban Ventures. Act Six provides 25-35 full-tuition, full-need scholarships each year at four partner colleges. On March 14, family, friends, and community members gathered at the Colin Powell Leadership Center to celebrate the third group of 25+ Twin Cities’ Act Six Scholars.

“My hope and dream for my life is to become a high school English teacher because I’ve had no African-American male teachers and I feel like that’s something the black community really needs.” - Pierre
“Everyone who came to this celebration inspired me to never quit and keep on going until I reach my dreams. I want to...  help others create their own success. I give glory to God for this blessing.” - David
“Mom and Dad, you have made unimaginable sacrifices for me to be able to be where I am today. I love you both so much! Thank you for always being there for me—for always pushing me to do my best.” - Kimberly

To sponsor a scholar, please call 612.545.9866


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