Alumni Giving Profiles
Young Alumni Succeed and Give Back
When Warrick Scott ’00, Mitchell (Mitch) Summerfield ‘03, Byron Williams ’01, Reba Williams ’02 and Chris Young ‘99 were students at Shaw, they couldn’t have imagined that in just a few short years their idea for a nonprofit would grow into a successful organization, serving over 500 clients. “The experiences we gained at Shaw definitely contributed to the successes that we have all experienced,” said Reba. “The Bible says everyone to whom much is given, of him will be required. Shaw gave, we received, and now it is our time to give back. We are sowing seeds into our future and the ability to do so is a blessing.”
Reaching Your Goals (RYG) was founded in 2002 after Reba encouraged her now husband Byron to start a nonprofit because he was “always helping people.” The organization is dedicated to ensuring that every child reaches his or her goals by providing appropriate mental, behavioral and nutritional services to children in need. To start RYG, Byron turned to his best friends, Warrick, Mitchell and Chris for assistance and the group opened their first group home that year. Renting a home from a former Shaw employee, Byron and Warrick handled the day-to-day operations of the group home while Mitch and Chris provided financial support. “We are all givers by nature,” said Byron. “We would rather give to others than give to ourselves.” After receiving their first foster child and helping him to do well in school, by providing food, clothing, shelter and emotional support, they began to get referrals, and one child turned into four, then 10 and more. Soon, Byron and Warrick turned to the community for assistance with their growing organization. “We did what we call ‘connecting the dots in the community’ where you find people with like spirit and like minds and you don’t take no for answer,” said Warrick. “We just pulled resources together.” Reba began researching how the organization could add more services and in just a short period of time, they were serving hundreds of clients and had over 300 employees.
Fast forward to 2013. Reaching Your Goals now includes a scholarship program, a food bank that serves over 200 people a week and an AAU basketball program. The group decided that the time was right to give back to their alma mater in the form of an endowed scholarship. “My experience at Shaw was just as much fun as it was tough, but it prepared me for the challenges that I would later encounter both personally and professionally,” said Byron. “It is a dream come true for me to be in a position to give back to something that means so much to me personally. Shaw has invested in me and now it is time that I return the favor. There is no dollar amount to show the value of what I gained from Shaw. Making this personal commitment is just a small token of my appreciation and recognition for what Shaw has done for me.”
Each founder personally contributed $25,000 to start the endowment and designated students majoring in mass communication, sociology, international relations, psychology and biology to be the recipients. For Byron, contributing to Shaw and starting RYG has been personal. Once a foster child himself, he hopes the endowment will “fill in the gap” and help students stay in school. “If a student can come to school and focus on their studies and not have to worry about how it will be paid or even how they will eat, then we have done a good deed.”
The group sees RYG expanding statewide and hosting STEM education summits. Additionally, the organization’s strategic plan includes expanding the delivery of the RYG’s behavioral health component to encompass a full array of private payers; competing on a national platform for the AAU program; and building a stronger scholarship component with the support of private and public investors. Each founder attributes their success to their families, including Mitch’s wife Shantel A. Summerfield and Warrick’s wife, Chinique, and two children, Talasjah and Warrick Jr.
“As we move forward we hope to be able to continue to inspire the University so that our boys will one day have the opportunity to have the Shaw experience like we have,” said Reba. With their efforts, hundreds of students will now have that opportunity as well.