The mocca story
INVESTING IN THE NEXT GENERATION
Over 38 years ago, Mrs. Inez Richardson, a philanthropist and youth advocate had a vision - to provide young people of color from Grace Baptist Church in the City of Mt. Vernon, New York and the surrounding community with the skills, knowledge and experience they needed to succeed in high school and college through a comprehensive enrichment program. This vision led to the establishment of the Ministry of College and Career Alliance (MOCCA), a comprehensive program of wraparound support services for high school graduates in pursuit of higher education. Book awards are given annually to scholars for up to four years while they were enrolled as full-time undergraduate students in accredited institutions of higher learning. In the past 39 years, scholarships have been awarded to over 1,000 college graduates More than 80 scholars each year now receive annual awards.
However, the story of MOCCA is about much more than numbers. MOCCA is part of the Village of Grace, seeking to serve and support the Scholars in many meaningful ways. According to Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, “We look to see what the needs are and focus our resources to meet those needs.” MOCCA seeks to provide Scholars with the services necessary to graduate from college and enter the workforce with a commitment to use their knowledge, skills and resources to help others and uplift their communities. MOCCA Scholars are assigned mentors who provide support and guidance throughout their college experience and who serve as liaisons to keep their scholars connected to the community.
The mentors communicate regularly with scholars individually and through the MOCCA e-mail and Facebook groups. They also add personal notes to their mentees in the “care packages” that are sent each semester to the MOCCA Scholars as they prepare for final examinations. Included in the care packages are inspirational books or DVD’s, an encouraging note from Dr. Richardson, invitations to MOCCA activities planned during their breaks, along with snacks, toiletries and supplies. The dedicated volunteers who serve as mentors and MOCCA members include professionals in a variety of fields and parents of past and present MOCCA Scholars. MOCCA Scholars pursue their studies at colleges and universities across the United States and many of them experience living abroad for a summer internship or semester of study. Within the landscape of post-secondary learning institutions, MOCCA Scholars are also attending Ivy League Universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
MOCCA’s positive impact is evidenced in the scholars’ high graduation rate (approx. 90% success rate) and in their activity and leadership in community and civic programs after graduation. The majority of scholars who return to the area after graduation remain active in the “Village of Grace.” MOCCA Scholars are serving their communities as educators, doctors and other health professionals, ministers, social workers, counselors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and elected officials. The MOCCA program continues to be an important initiative that helps address the needs of community youth by helping them acquire the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to succeed as the next generation of global leaders.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
- Nelson Mandela