I am Wilma Harvey, the Founder/CEO of Education Plus 2 (EP2). EP2 helps me fulfill my vision of “giving back” and helping our most valurable communities. Raised by parents in the deep south, I still remember the days of segregation and the summers of picking and chopping cotton. My parents taught me and my siblings that in order to get out of poverty there were two principles to live by a strong belief in God and a good education.
I can still remember going to school using second hand textbooks and only Black teachers and classmates. It was not until I went to graduate school I had my first non-Black instructor and a new textbook. Let me step back for a moment, I met my 10th grade social studies teacher, that became my mentor and life coach. Today, that teacher is ninety six years old, and she is still a vital part of my life. She also reinforced the principles of my parents which set me on my life path and dreams.
As years passed I received three degrees (BA, MA and PhD) became a mother and began my career as a junior high school teacher social studies teacher, just like my 10th grade teacher. Over the years I worked in several public school systems, colleges and universities, as fate would have it, I became an elected member and President of the elected school board in Washington DC. I began to reflect on the teachings of my parents and my 10th grade teacher as I continued to witness the generational demised of the family unit in communities and neighborhoods especially in the urban areas, which the majority population was Black Americans.
A Personal Testimony
Let me share a personal testimony that led me to founding Education Plus 2. As a member of the School Board I received a call from one of my constituents who stated that she needed me to come to her home it was an emergency. I walked in her home and found a mother with two infants (twins) on the floor. The mother was forced to leave the hospital because her boyfriend’s mother would not let her return to her home. The birth of these twins meant that this young mother now had five children. The mother was homeless with five children, I made contact with city officials that instructed me to take her and the twins to the homeless shelter hotel. I returned and met the additional three children which ranged from the age of three and younger. I don’t ever think I will forget the picture of five small children and a mother in that small hotel room. It once again reinforced the principles of my parents and my 10th grade teacher that the way out of poverty was a belief in God and a good education.
I met the third child whose name will not be used to protect her identity. She was three years old, with a bright smile and as most three year olds she was a bundle of energy and ready to experience the world. Shortly after meeting her and sharing my experience with this mother and five children with my friends we decided to “give back” and we would god mothers to this young girl. Each of us decided what expertise we could and would give to her. I would take the church and education lead, another friend would provide housing, another one would provide entertainment and clothing and another one would provide financial backing. With the mother’s approval, we became god mothers to this three year old. As she got older we set down with her and created a contractual agreement. Her only contractual obligation was to go to school and to do her best academically and to treat people the way she would want them to treat her.
As the years passed we continued to be her god mothers, we met with her on a regular basis and adjusted our contractual agreement that was age appropriated and watched her graduate from high school, undergraduate and graduate school. Today she is a young Black women pursuing her profession and her dreams.
I have met many children in my life work, who desperately need the “village” that’s what we do at Education Plus 2 is “creating healthy families one family at a time.”
The Harvey family generation has move well beyond the days of my childhood, today many of my siblings are professional in the fields of education, law, religion, and psychology. This generation of Harvey children are being educated in some of the best elementary/middle/high schools in the country both private and public. This generation of Harvey’s have also graduated or attending some of the best universities in this country both Historically Black and non-Black. I am witnessing the principles of my parents and my 10th grade teacher with not only my family but with children of this generation.
My dream is that Education Plus 2 will provide skill sets to our most vaurable children and their families, so that they can become “equal players on the world stage”