The following videos feature students of Simon Youth Academies and Simon Youth Scholarship recipients. In each, you will hear from students in their own words as they share the impact that Simon Youth Foundation has had on their lives. Each story is one of hope ignited.

Brandon Pressley

Too often, high school students face challenging life circumstances. Homelessness, illness, family problems and bullying all are issues that can make it difficult for youth to succeed in traditional school environments. For more than 15 years, Simon Youth Foundation has been reaching these students before they decide to drop out of school, connecting them with Simon Youth Academies and creating opportunities for them to earn their high school diplomas. In total, we’ve helped more than 11,000 students graduate. Brandon Pressley, a graduate of the Simon Youth Academy at Opry Mills in Nashville, TN is one of these students. In December of 2013, Brandon proudly walked across the stage to accept his diploma – making him the first in his family to graduate from high school. And in his own words, “he’s not stopping there.” This is his story.

Luis Prieto-Pena

Luis Preito-Pena, a graduate of the Simon Youth Pacers Academy at Washington Square in Indianapolis, Indiana has a diploma now and he’s never letting it go. This is Luis’ story in his own words.

Mary Madden

Mary Madden says that she is an Agent of Change in her community, because her success after graduating from the Simon Youth Pacers Academy at Washington Square is an example for the next generation of students in her community.


Zeb Davis and Joshua Kerney

Zeb Davis and Joshua Kerney went from nearly dropping out of high school to having a laser-like focus on college, and it’s in part thanks to their SYF-supported experience at a collegiate summer camp, Zeb and Joshua say.


Lewis Whitley

Lewis Whitley came to Simon Youth Foundation because he couldn’t connect with learning at his traditional high school and missed too many classes. That background makes Lewis’s run of three straight semesters of perfect attendance at his Simon Youth Academy all the more impressive.


Trent Rhoades

Raised by his mother because his father was in prison, Trent struggled to focus in class and wasn’t convinced that he needed to finish high school. A move to the Simon Youth Clark Pleasant Academy quickly changed Trent’s view of the importance of education.

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