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UMGC Alumni Association IT TAKES TWO: Jaemellah Kemp ‘14 Pays It Forward to Young Students

As a single mom with a kindergartner, Jaemellah Kemp ’14 had to make a difficult decision: buy school supplies to set her son up for success or pay her bills.

Fortunately, she had family and friends to lean on and was able to get the support she needed to do both, but she realized that not everyone in her situation does.

Compelled to help

As a working mom and full-time student, the thought of starting a new non-profit organization was daunting, but Kemp was determined. With the help of like-minded friends, she was able to incorporate IT TAKES TWO, INC as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2012.

Kemp is working to prepare kids to be the leaders of tomorrow by supporting them in their education and exposing them to opportunities. IT TAKES TWO has seven board members and five staff, and they’re all volunteers, contributing their time and talent for the good of the cause.

Together, they are promoting education, building self-awareness and encouraging young people to fulfill their potential so they can enjoy productive and successful lives.

“We introduce them to various things so they can find what they’re naturally good at and how that translates into a lifestyle so they can take care of themselves,” Kemp says.

Giving students a great start—and a strong finish

The Positioned for Greatness Youth Program (P4GYP) at IT TAKES TWO is based on six pillars. These include anti-bullying, financial literacy, college and career readiness, youth entrepreneurship, community service and leadership. Programs are designed for kids in grades five through 12 and take them through their transformative years in middle school through high school and beyond.

It's making a difference for kids whose families might not be able to provide them with the help they need to be successful academically and socially.

“Young people need to know someone is there to support them, that someone is listening,” insists Kemp.

And just like her son, these students also need the basics, such as pens, crayons and notebooks to help them get the most from school. Their program has a special twist.

“We give them a second replenishment of supplies halfway through the year so they can finish as strong as they started,” Kemp explains. “We want to make sure a lack of school supplies is not going to get in the way of them succeeding in the classroom.”

Making a real impact

IT TAKES TWO has helped change the life of hundreds of students–and their parents–through its programs. Of all of those deserving kids, one has left an especially indelible impression on Kemp.

“It’s a full-circle story,” she explains.

The two met when the student was in tenth grade and participated in IT TAKES TWO’s student success programs. With support from the program, the student went on to earn degrees from Michigan State University and Penn State University.

Today, she’s back in Maryland and volunteers with IT TAKES TWO. As a speaker in their programs, she helps educate young students on what life in college is really like. Hearing from a peer makes a big impact on the kids, and it’s also making an impact on Kemp.

“She is my mentee,” she says. “She’s a great example of doing the work and being committed, and she wants to give back.”

Grateful for her education

Kemp finds great fulfillment in her volunteer work with IT TAKES TWO, and she credits her education at UMGC with helping prepare her to launch and grow a non-profit organization.

“Education is the cornerstone of everything,” she explains. “UMGC always has a special place in my heart.”

Her degree in nonprofit management has helped her understand the nuances of starting a non-profit from the ground up, along with compliance requirements, operating an organization, recruiting, leading a volunteer staff and more.

Ten years in, and she’s grateful for the impact she has been able to make. She’s also longing to do more, such as open a youth center and offer full-ride scholarships to students.

“That is the ultimate goal,” she admits. “I’d love to see that come to fruition.” 

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