More than 230 people were in attendance May 2 at the Collegiate Directions, Inc. 9th Annual Spring Benefit. The festive event, held at the Four Seasons, Georgetown, raised money to support CDI’s programs that help low-income, first-generation-to-college students apply to, get accepted to, and graduate from college.
The evening began with cocktails and a silent auction, featuring dozens of items including MLB, NFL, and NBA tickets, fabulous jewelry, luxurious hotel stays, and more.
Following the auction, Kevin Rivas, a member of the CDI class of 2007, thanked CDI’s corporate sponsors: Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo Advisors, Marshfield Associates, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, United Bank, Carr Properties, The Oliver Carr Company, Bank of America, and Greenberg Traurig. He also announced that Michael Rankin and TTR Sotheby’s International Realty have committed to a multi-year partnership with CDI.
Later in the evening, guests were greeted by CDI President Amma Felix who used a quote from statesman Frederick Douglass to illustrate the importance of CDI’s mission — “Some know the value of education by having it. I know its value by not having it.”
“How you start off life does not have to be how you end up,” Ms. Felix said. “At CDI we live this reality every day, every time we work with a Scholar who has such rich promise and the drive to achieve his or her goals. We lock arms with our Scholars and their families to face the journey toward college completion and we triumph in the end.”
Following her remarks, Ms. Felix presented the Marks Medal for Academic Excellence and Career Achievement to the Honorable Eric Holder, Jr., 82nd Attorney General of the U.S.
The award, named after CDI founders Nina and Jonathan Marks, was presented to Mr. Holder who leveraged his college experience to broaden his vision and heighten his awareness of the world beyond his native Queens, New York, setting him on a trajectory that would see him ascend to the highest ranks of the U.S. Government.
A self-described “working-class kid with big dreams,” Mr. Holder acknowledged the impact of education and mentorship in his life.
“I didn’t come from money or status. I didn’t know what the future held for me or what I could achieve. But my life experience, with the help of others, became the foundation of my career as a prosecutor, judge, and ultimately Attorney General,” he said.
Mr. Holder went on to implore members of the audience to continue their support of CDI’s critical work to advance educational opportunities for the Scholars we serve. “Today, more than ever, we need to lift each other up and empower one another to make our country a better place,” he said. “We must begin by shaping the lives of our children and that will shape the direction of our nation. I would ask you to share with your students what I now say to you: I support them. I am them.”
CDI Scholar Afraah Karama (’15), who will graduate from American University this spring with a degree in Accounting expressed her gratitude and appreciation to the CDI community.
“CDI challenged and encouraged me to strive to reach my greatest potential,” she said. “I am honored and grateful to have been selected to be a part of an organization that has been life-changing for me and everyone who has been a part of this program.”
Master of Ceremonies Agnes “Aggie” Underwood presided over an open appeal to assist CDI in expanding its mental health advocacy by giving Scholars access to a professional therapist to help them address and work through a range of social and emotional challenges.
Collegiate Directions, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to closing the education, achievement, and opportunity gap for low-income, primarily first-generation-to-college students. CDI provides comprehensive college counseling, targeted tutoring, test preparation, study skills training, leadership training, and ongoing support, starting in 10th grade and continuing through successful college graduation — leading to a 97% college graduation rate for participating students. CDI extends its work to high school college advising offices through tailored consulting focused on helping school counselors and staff improve college advising and supporting students to find their best-fit college.