Bay Area outreach program showing kids that higher education is an attainable goal

Horace Drew was a popular high school football coach, known for his dedication and passion 15 years ago. Then, he traded in his whistle to become a mentor, and now he's dedicating his life to guiding young minds and showing them a path to college.

His outreach called "Ray of Hope" is What's Right With Tampa Bay.

Twice a week, Drew gathers a group of enthusiastic teenagers from the Tampa Bay Area. His mission is to show them a world beyond their neighborhood.

"When you're in a rough place. He helps you talk, talks with it through you," said Trinity Mills, youth participant. "You know, anything you have going on, you just, he's just a safe place."

"I wanted to do something to show our kids to be successful in life and believe in themselves," said Drew, founder of Ray of Hope Outreach. "You got to believe in yourself."

That belief led him to start the outreach program. He mentors young people about being good citizens and shows them a world where higher education is not just a dream but a reachable goal.

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"I want to do something for the kids to show them that in life you can do something in life. And that's why I started these trips," Drew said.

Drew believes that exposure is the key to ambition, and so he takes kids on eye-opening college tours.

"This year, we go on to Montgomery, Alabama. At Tuskegee, we're going to Selma, we're going to the state capital, Alabama," Drew explained.

He has been taking teens on college tours for six years.

"I always wanted to go to college, but they pushed it, pushed me more to want to go to college because of all the advice in the things you told me about college benefits," Mills said.

Youth participant Zane Ricks said, "We're getting led to know how to do things the right way, which is like as you're following the right rules, having fun but having fun with manners, being polite."

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He gets the money he needs for the trips from local businesses and private donations.

"If I'm in a neighborhood of Tampa and I never thought I could go to school and now this organization comes around and takes me on a trip where I can go to four historically Black universities and I see myself. It gives children hope," said Tasha Cohen-Glynn, with Achieva Credit Union.

"I know I'm going to stop one day," said Drew. "But until God tells me it's time to quit, I'll keep on doing this. Because if I save one kid, one kid, that's important in life."

With every college tour, Drew is planting the seed of a brighter future for the kids he has grown to love.

Drew has raised more than $20,000 for the trip, but needs another $10,000 to have enough money for the lodging and food. If you would like to contact Drew, call (813) 531-5636 or visit


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