2013 Graduates

Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative
College Prep, Field Trip & Scholarship Program 2010-2013

Class of 2013

Shavanae Anderson, Suffolk University

Sivana Brown, Lasell College

Julia Cooper, Colgate University

Kelsey Dandenau, High Point University

Isabella El-Deiry, Howard University

Jacob Lawrence, UMass Amherst

Charles Pikor, St. Michael's College

Maggie Riseborough, UMass Amherst

Oscar Thompson, Warren Wilson College


Class of 2012

Je'Vaughn Crooks, 
Cape Cod Community College

Warren Gowell, UMass Amherst

Eva Faber, University of Vermont

Shelby Ferry, University of Vermont

Cerina Gordon, Drexel University

Emma HallBilsback, Hampshire College

Chris Pitt, UMass Amherst

Andrew Randall, University of Vermont

Anna Hughes,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Meagan McDonough,
Warren Wilson College


Class of 2011

Amoy Anderson, Suffolk University

Shawna Brown,
Washington Adventist University

Evan Hall, Berklee College of Music

Isaac Hurwitz, San Francisco Art Institute

Grant Meacham, Boston University

Courtney Minnehan,
Plymouth State University

Kayla Johnson, Manhattan College

Mary Vogel,
Cape Cod Community College

Lisa Wilson, Green Mountain College 


Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative is proud to announce its 2013 graduates. We are pleased to provide our nine graduating seniors with scholarships to pursue their dreams for college and their lives.  


Since 2010 MVYLI has supported seventeen Vineyard youth to realize their goals of a higher education and received scholarships to pursue their dreams. 



MVYLI's College Prep, Field Trip & Scholarship Program prepares students to explore their college options and make good decisions aligned with their career goals. Each youth starts as a youth delegate to the Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development. During this weeklong intensive training, Vineyard youth work alongside seasoned leaders to envision their personal, professional and planetary goals. Every afternoon they meet in small groups with college youth to explore their professional dreams, discuss their college options and develop a 5 year plan to realize their dreams.  Youth then join MVYLI's yearlong fellowship program with the College Prep, Field Trip & Scholarship Program and the Job Shadow Day where they are matched with accomplished professionals in their fields of interest.


MVYLI's goal is to increase Vineyard youth awareness of their goals for their lives and explore how various college tracks will assist them with their career goals.  We assist them with practical steps to experience first hand college life so they are more likely to stay in college, graduate and go forward towards their career goals. Since they are often the first in their families to attend college, and their families are limited in their knowledge of the college application process, MVYLI has supported students of color and their families with one-on-one support with preparing portfolios, letters of recommendations, preparing proposals for financial aid, and legal issues. 


Martha's Vineyard youth have a higher than average drop out rate as college freshmen. They face various challenges - from adapting to off-island life to balancing studies and social activities. Some are from single parent families or the first in their family to attend college. Some parents are unable or unprepared to take their children to travel off-island to visit colleges. They may study hard, get good grades, apply to college, get accepted, get financial aid and then travel there, sight unseen.  MVYLI's College Prep, Field Trip & Scholarship Program helps increase their chances to be accepted at colleges of their choice, so they are more likely to stay in college, graduate and go forward towards their career goals.

MVYLI's College Field Trips We take them to Massachusetts' colleges so they can meet professors and college advisors who can then assist them with their decision-making and application process. Babson College, Brandeis University, Gordon College, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Suffolk University, Salem State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Boston and Dartmouth, and Wheelock College. We hosted Howard University's Admissions Counselor for a tailored workshop.   
Scholarships for Vineyard youth:
In 2012, MVYLI hired Project Coordinator Saundra Hart Johnson, Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Guidance Counseling.  Saundra held weekly workshops toresearch and assist students to apply for local, state and national scholarships.  MVYLI youth received over $300,000 in scholarships.  "I moved back to the Vineyard, after grad school, to become involved in helping to shape the next generation of island youth as they begin to look across the waters and into their futures," said Saundra. "I am amazed at how driven these young people are and how, with guidance and support they are becoming positive role models and leaders in our community!"  

Bill Eville Conducts ACT Training: 2012


In 2011 we developed a pilot program to provide training for the ACT testing.  The ACT (American College Testing) is not available at MVRHS, so Vineyard youth have to travel off-island to take the test at Falmouth High School. College Admissions Directors advised us that this test was recommended for students of color as well as those with learning disabilities. Bill Eville conducted a training and held weekly workshops to study materials/workbooks and prepare students to succeed.  MVYLI youth had great results - their test scores improved by 200-400 points. MVYLI is now working with MV Charter School to offer the ACT Test to all Vineyard youth.  

I want to thank you for everything you have done for me! The scholarships, the opportunities, the friendship ...the list just goes on and on! It has honestly been a blessing experience with you. I honestly can't thank you enough. I just want you to know how much you have changed my life! I will never forget you or what you have done for me!
Courtney Minnehan


I realized that I should really get started on my college applications and financial aid as soon as possible. This got me really excited and motivated since it's all a reality now!
Kayla Johnson


 I want to thank you so much for everything you have done for me. Going on college field trips and scholarship workshops have helped me so much in choosing where I want to go to college and which career path to choose. Even though there have been a few obstacles along the way, I realized my goal of attending a four-year college. Your scholarship has been such a great help to put towards my college funds. I really appreciate it. You are truly a great and amazing person!              

Shawna Brown


Thank you for all the love and effort you have given our children.  You are making the world a better place. Grateful that Bella fell into your arms. All our best,                 
Beka El Diery, Parent


Thank you for working with our youth. You're doing a good job.                  
Audrey Hare, Parent


Thanks for the fine work you're doing with island teens.
Jeff Agnoli, MVRHS Guidance Counselor


MVYLI has been working in conjunction with the MV High School guidance program to help students during their post secondary planning process. Students have been afforded opportunities to visit college campuses, meet with college officials and explore college options.  The students involved in this program have found these trips to be useful and motivational.  It has helped them crystallize their plans they have been working on with their guidance counselors.  The adult leaders have been open to all levels of students and have tried to provide experiences in line with the student's achievements and interests.  This time of a student's life is very stressful and time consuming.  Having added support from MVYLI is beneficial to the students at MVRHS.

Michael McCarthy, Director of Guidance, Martha's Vineyard Regional High School

The Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative's mission is to train young people to become leaders in their lives, their community and the world. MVYLI is a project of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute, a 501c3 non-profit organization founded on Martha's Vineyard in 1997.


Video Conference Interviews

MVYLI Advisory Council member Doris Clark and Project Coordinator Rebecca Rabeni conducted weekly workshops and organized videoconference interviews with colleges outside of Massachusetts including Tuskegee University, Alabama and Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Atlanta University.


In 2010, MVYLI Project Coordinator, Adrian Aristide, a psychology graduate from Salem State University, held a workshop about SAT's, GPA's and how to get scholarships. She had tips about college life experience, living on or off campus and how to balance studies with social life.


Video MVYLI's College Prep & Field Trip Program  MVYLI youth produced a video on their experiences visiting colleges, to inspire other young people to follow in their footsteps and visit colleges in the fall, vs. waiting until the spring semester. www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX6mMOoh0Rc


MVYLI College Field Trip, Martha's Vineyard Times, September 29, 2010
Many Thanks to All of Our Sponsors 

Permanent Endowment

MV Savings Bank

Hermann Foundation

The Riverbend Fund

Caleb Loring

In-Kind Sponsors: Sheraton Needham,Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Boston, Joel Abramson at Flagship Travel, Regatta Pub at Salem Waterfront Hotel, Steamship Authority and Tecce's of Boston, Fitzwillie's Northampton, Not Your Average Joes: Dartmouth, Needham, Randolph, Watertown.

Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative



Soup 4 the World

Stone Soup Leadership Institute