EXETER, N.H. – A young man originally from Virginia came to New Hampshire last year for a high school education. Now he’s helping others in New Hampshire receive an education as well.
Phillips Exeter sophomore and 15-year-old Aaron Joy has raised approximately $5,000 for Hillside Middle School and $1,000 for Jewett Street Elementary School in Manchester, with the money being put toward new Chromebooks for students at both schools.
Joy and fellow students Anya Tang, Max Tan, and Cyrus Braden at Phillips Exeter raised the money as part of a non-profit organization Joy established called the Uplift Foundation. In addition to raising money for those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation also aims to make educational programs for all and supplement student learning, especially for students from low-income backgrounds.
The foundation currently offers online classes for middle school students in debate skills and essay writing, with money from voluntary donations from class participants helping to raise the money for the two Manchester schools.
Since middle school, Joy has been one of the best in the country at a form of debating called “public forum debating,” taking the success he’s earned at state and national debate competitions into what was about 100 hours of work in building a curriculum for the foundation’s online debating classes.
So far, about 70 students have participated in the debate classes online through the Uplift Foundation and he hopes to see more in the future.
“When we started our debate programs, our goal was to help out a lot of kids who have never debated before and give them these foundational skills. Many were eager, but some were terrified at the thought of public speaking,” said Joy. “That being said, by the end of the program we saw exponential growth and we’ve seen many of them become great public speakers.”
The Chromebooks are expected to arrive in Manchester sometime in early March and supplement Chromebook purchases made by the Manchester School District in recent months.
Joy says he chose Jewett Street and Hillside as way to help New Hampshire schools with limited resources and Hillside Middle School Teacher Haidy Zioze believes the Chromebooks coming from the Uplift Foundation’s efforts will significantly assist her students.
“Teaching in an inner-city school, where many of my students come from impoverished backgrounds and struggle to obtain the simplest of school supplies, these laptops will open up many new learning possibilities for them,” said Zioze. “In these times of remote and hybrid learning, many did not have a device to use to connect to their classroom, teacher and peers.”
Classes provided by the Uplift Foundation are available to all students. More information on the Uplift Foundation can be found at their website.
No date has been set as of March 19 regarding acceptance of the gift by the Manchester Board of School Committee or the integration of the Chromebooks into the district’s technology strategy, according to district spokesman Andrew Toland.