A Northeastern student and U.S. Coast Guard veteran is applying his interest in law, public policy and behavioral sciences to help improve and expand initiatives at All Dorchester Sports and Leadership, a Boston-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop the skills of at-risk youth and strengthen their families by providing them with an alternative to gang activity and other risky behaviors.
Evaristus Odinikaeze, a second-year student in the Master of Public Policy Program, will spend six months—from October 2017 to April 2018—working at All Dorchester Sports and Leadership after receiving a prestigious fellowship from Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans to continue their service on the community level.
Odinikaeze took a break from homework and his duties as the co-founder and treasurer of Northeastern’s Graduate Students of Color Collective to chat about his fellowship and the work he will be doing at All Dorchester Sports and Leadership.
“There is no way I could have chosen any other fellowship or host organization that would allow me to directly translate my passion, education and experience into building stronger communities in Boston, and contributing in tackling policy issues therein,” he said.
A: I heard about the Mission Continues Fellowship at a strategy session with Linda Kowalcky, professor of the practice at SPPUA. Upon all other options, I decided to pursue the Mission Continues Fellowship because we are both interested in the economic empowerment and development of our communities. Additionally, I think that I would have a better opportunity for greater impact if I have the flexibility to choose organizations and programs that further align with my interests and recipients that are in most need of those programs.
I chose All Dorchester Sports and Leadership as my prospective host organization because the organization’s focus on youth empowerment and development in Boston aligns with my interests and beliefs that social change is most successful when young people are empowered to develop the critical skills they need to succeed and become productive and committed members of society. We both believe that we can create more thriving communities in America when and if our young people develop liberating capabilities and new mindsets instead of perpetuating inefficiency.
A: I felt ecstatic when I received their email: “CONGRATULATIONS! You have been accepted into The Mission Continues Fellowship Program as a member of our Delta Class 2017! We could not be prouder to have you as a part of this mission. Thank you for your commitment to building a stronger community here at home!”
It is so unreal because the fellowship is highly selective. Plus, I will be flying to Houston, Texas for a three-day orientation, where I’ll be staying at a five-star hotel.
A: For six months—between October 2017 and April 2018—I plan to coordinate with All Dorchester Sports and Leadership in the improvement and expansion of their initiatives to maximize their impact and support the youth and families they serve. I will work directly with my site supervisor, who is also the organization’s executive director, to design and carry out prospective monitoring and evaluation activities to assess the organization’s impact on participants, as well as assist the CFO with bookkeeping and other backend nonprofit management tasks. Public policy demands leadership. As such, I will love to share some of my military skills with the participants during mentorship sessions to help kids easily navigate through academic and social life.
A: The desire to help others and improve our communities led me to public policy studies. As a result, the objective of my fellowship is to engage in an effort to maximize the impact of All Dorchester Sports and Leadership to develop the skills of youth so that they are empowered to enhance their own lives and build strong and vibrant urban communities around Boston.
This is a simplified answer because, like Northeastern, Mission Continues, All Dorchester and myself envision a more sustainable America and world where all people, even in the most remote communities, are empowered to create opportunities for themselves and others. This will certainly help to tackle public policy issues such as gang activity, drug use, and violent and other criminal activities that are prevalent in the urban areas around Boston and the country. For me, organization and mission matter!