Back in 2009, Jaemellah Kemp was a single working mother with a son on his way to being enrolled in kindergarten. She was faced with choosing whether to buy her child school supplies that he needed or food for the week. With assistance given by family and friends, Kemp was able to cover both necessities. The predicament sparked Kemp to realize that “challenging financial decisions such as these plagues many single-parent households on a daily basis.”
In response, Kemp launched It Takes Two, Inc in 2012. Her mission to give back to students from single-parent homes commenced in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Kemp provided scholarships for school supplies, books, and uniforms. The CEO and nonprofit founder’s actions led to over 1,000 students receiving assistance throughout Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and in the District of Columbia.
“We have expanded our scholarship program to provide laptops, tutoring and Internet in response to COVID-19, and we are still continuing that on today by having our students engaging in needs assessments so that we can determine the best awards package for them,” Kemp said.
Kemp added that board members, community partners, and local businesses like Wegmans and the Walmart Foundation have made contributions, but “the people” have played a major part in helping to support students who participated in the nonprofit’s programs over the years. Information on the nonprofit’s website states that It Takes Two, Inc normally awards between $200-$500 in scholarship awards to each scholarship recipient from elementary school age to the college level. However, Kemp told The Baltimore Times that because of a successful fundraising campaign, approximately $100 more will be awarded per scholarship recipient this year.
To celebrate reaching a 10-year-journey full of milestones, It Takes Two, Inc will be holding its annual anniversary dinner and youth awards event on Saturday, August 6, 2022, at Village Commons Community Center, located at 1326 Main Chapel Way in Gambrills, Maryland from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Mikeya Dunnigan, a Tools for Success Scholarship alumnus and recent Michigan State University graduate, will cohost the event with 13-year-old Sydney Thomas. She is a Positioned for Greatness Youth Program participant.
Additionally, four awards will be given to young people who were nominated by their community in leadership, service, student-athlete, and youth entrepreneur categories. A special award called the ‘Rising Phoenix’ award will be presented to another young person.
Juwan Blocker, a two-time speaker for It Takes Two, Inc, will be sharing insight at the upcoming event about his political activism when he was a young student, in addition to wisdom that he has cultivated over the years. As a civic-minded teenager, Blocker joined his Student Government Association at Parkdale High School in Hyattsville, Md. After becoming a Student Member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, Blocker successfully “advocated to lower the voting age to 16 in the city of Hyattsville,” according to his website.
Kemp noted that Blocker has a spirit to give back and show what is possible.
“One of our missions is to create tomorrow’s leaders today, and he (Blocker) personifies that in how he started off in high school in the Student Government Association, how he carries himself, and how he speaks highly of others,” she said.
Blocker is actively serving in the D.C. National Guard and working as Deputy Legislative Director for Maryland Comptroller, Peter Franchot. The Bowie State University alumnus is currently pursuing a master’s degree at University of Baltimore. Blocker stated that he will provide “nuggets of wisdom,” and speak about his unconventional path to success to “tell young folks that what you do in life isn’t always a straight path,” when he serves as It Takes Two, Inc’s guest speaker soon.
“I look forward most importantly to celebrating these young folks that have stood out and said ‘Hey, I’m going to be unapologetically myself and stand out,’” Blocker said.
As the special evening draws near, Kemp reflects on how much progress has been made through her act of obedience and stepping out on faith to support youth and families.
“It’s humbling and rewarding to see the families that we have been able to support in some capacity, and just to know that we’ve been able to lighten their burden just a little bit by providing them with a hand up, not a handout,” Kemp said.
Tickets are available to purchase for It Takes Two, Inc’s 10-year anniversary, dinner celebration, and awards ceremony that will be held on August 6, 2022 via Eventbrite or https://ittakestwoinc.org/events. Donations can be made to the nonprofit by visiting https://ittakestwoinc.org/donate, or the event page.
Megan Loock contributed to this article.