If you give a person a fish, you feed him for a day. If you help her learn to fish, you feed her for a lifetime, and her family also. If you enable him to become a fisheries manager, the whole community benefits. And if she acquires the capability to make original contributions to the sustainability of protein sources, future generations benefit.
– Jim MacGinnitie, Former Chairman of the Reach for Excellence Board of Directors
Jim and Barbara MacGinnitie have been passionate supporters of Reach for Excellence for more than a decade. Their involvement has deepened through the years, and Jim has served as chairman of the Reach for Excellence Board of Directors for more than five years.
The Reach for Excellence mission aligns with Jim and Barbara’s personal values, including “a well-rounded education and the duty to give back to the community that has made one’s success possible.”
Jim and Barbara are inspired by the program’s far-reaching positive effects and emphasis on service. “We have continued (to support Reach for Excellence) because we think it is making a real difference in the lives of the students, increasing their chances for success and accomplishment for the rest of their own lives, and giving them the prospect of having a very positive impact on the lives of others,” said Jim. “And Reach for Excellence emphasizes the duty to give back, as witnessed by the many graduates who return to volunteer.”
When asked what he and Barbara wanted other potential donors to know about Reach for Excellence, Jim replied, “we wish every one of them understood the great impact the program has on students’ lives, the very high success rate, and the amazingly low cost of the program.”
Arfa Rana, Cohort 2003 A was not simply a member of the first cohort to complete Reach for Excellence; she was also the first of three siblings to graduate from the program.
Reach for Excellence taught her not only academic skills and confidence but also exposed her to new options. “I credit Reach for Excellence for taking me on my first visit to a college campus,” she said. “I remember visiting Georgia Tech for the first time and feeling an overwhelming sense of belonging; I knew then that I wanted to go to Tech for college. Reach for Excellence helped me find that.”
Arfa did eventually pursue her dream to attend Georgia Tech. During college she volunteered at Reach for Excellence as a summer intern, where she saw from a different perspective the impact Reach for Excellence has on young people. “I have seen first-hand shy, unsure sixth graders develop into confident and mature young men and women, ready for high school. Reach for Excellence exposes students to academic material they will not see in a typical classroom and provides a nurturing, safe environment to develop their minds and personalities.”
She graduated in May 2011 with a BS in nuclear and radiological engineering. She currently works for Constellation Energy at their Nine Mile Nuclear Power Plant in New York.
Arfa says that Reach for Excellence has helped her determine the course of her life. “If I had not attended Reach for Excellence, I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish as much as I have.”
Brothers Derrick Lewis and Kandon Fears attended Reach for Excellence eight years apart. That experience came full circle on July 29, 2018 when older brother Derrick served as the guest speaker for Kandon and his peers’ graduation from Reach for Excellence. Derrick, Cohort 2010 H, Druid Hills High School ‘2014, a 2018 graduate of Morehouse College, earned a BS degree in Finance and is currently employed by Accenture. Kandon, Cohort 2018 P, has joined the Class of 2022 at DeKalb School of the Arts. Both brothers are “Committed to the Climb”!
Reach for Excellence graduates from Cohort 2003 A through 2017 O have continued their education at a number of college preparatory institutions, colleges, and universities with a few as far away as China and Mexico!