OU President Larry Schall and Sue Sehgal, Ph.D., founder & president of Campus Community Partnership Foundation, present the Community Academic Service Entrepreneur (CASE) Award to Christopher Huff ’12, a Political Communication and Economic Development major whose winning proposal enables him to implement Operation Uplift.
Huff worked with South Atlanta School of Law and Justice staff to provide resources to the students to enable them to achieve goals in Voluntary Public Service and Expedition/Exploration, two key program areas of Operation Uplift. The CASE Award provides a grant of $2,500: $1,000 to South Atlanta LSJ, $1,000 to Huff’s faculty advisor Dr. Peter Kower, associate professor of economics and $500 directly to Huff.
“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve….” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Christopher explains his motivation for starting Operation Uplift…
It wasn’t long ago that Oglethorpe junior Christopher Huff ’12 took the words of Dr. King, one of his role models, to heart and created Operation Uplift, a service program for disadvantaged youth in his community.
Operation Uplift is a mentoring program aimed at “at risk” youth and designed to help steer them away from the harmful activities of the streets and encourage them to channel their energies toward positive academic goals.
During its first year, Christopher is planned for Operation Uplift to help ten high school students from South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice in their personal development and vision for their futures. Through the program, engaged the students in volunteer projects that would hopefully spawn an interest in service and introduce them to the services of other nonprofits so they can receive academic and career counseling. Chris believes that Atlanta’s youth have a lot of untapped talent and skills, and they are often wasted on detrimental pursuits.
“Did you know that the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice reports that African-American youth make up over 90 percent of youth serving for criminal offenses in Fulton County? …That there are 50 gangs in the city of Atlanta?” asks Christopher. ”Operation Uplift seeks to establish academic, social and professional networks in our city. It’s a hands-on approach to the idea that…you don’t have to go that route. You’re smarter than that. Look at all you can do.”
At the young age of 20, Christopher’s experience growing up on the southside of Chicago—and losing a friend to gang violence–explains the personal connection he has with the cause. “The way I see it—where I’m from, there are only three things you could do—you can sell drugs, play ball, or go to college…and I chose college. I want others to do the same.”