Freshman serves community well

GW freshman Duane Jackson’s experience as a leader and community activist has earned him an invitation to discuss community issues at the White House.

Jackson joined the 11-10-02 Foundation when he was a high school student. Also known as Brunchbunch.com, it is a community service-based organization that links professionals with Chicago school children.

Because of his participation, Jackson has received national awards, internship opportunities and an invitation to the White House to meet with representatives from President George W. Bush’s Faith Based and Community Initiatives Department.

“11-10-02 is the date of (founder Greg) Siegman’s 30th birthday and stands for the idea that one can accomplish a lot, even at a young age,” Jackson said. “Their mission is to work to break down barriers and destroy stereotypes.”

Jackson received enormous responsibility in the organization at a young age. Siegman handpicked him to co-host the foundation’s national gala, called Shakingupchicago.com, and allocate $50,000 in grants and scholarships. Foundation members raised money for direct financial donations for clothes, food and school supplies.

“It was both a shock and an honor to be able to host ShakingUpChicago.com,” Jackson said. “I was ready for the challenge and I think Mr. Siegman knew that.”

Jackson said he was nervous about hosting the gala at the Westin Hotel in Chicago but was happy he was granted the opportunity.

Jackson was again surprised when during the event he was presented with the Presidential Student Service Gold Award that includes a special certificate signed by Bush and a gold pin.

The American Institute for Public Service gave the award to honor Jackson for completing more than 100 hours of community service and his service in the foundation.

Siegman again entrusted Jackson with a large responsibility when he appointed Jackson to select winning grant proposals. Siegman offered a challenge to student ambassadors from the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Congress in Chicago, where he was a keynote speaker, to write where they think grant money would be most useful in their communities.

Jackson will select the winning entry, and 11-10-02 will supply the money for a grant proposal by the winning high school student.

“I think Mr. Siegman offers me these responsibilities because he feels that I am a leader in the community that could handle the challenge,” Jackson said.

According to the organization’s Web site, 11-10-02 was started on March 8, 1997, when Siegman ran into two of his black students and took them for milkshakes at a restaurant that happened to have mostly white affluent customers.

When the group sat down, a woman at a table next to the men gave them a look of disdain and moved her purse out of their reach. Siegman said he was furious and swore he would turn this negative feelings into positive action.

Siegman said he rose from the table and told the restaurant’s owner he would be back with 10 kids instead of two. He said he returned and has never missed a week since, brunching more than 230 consecutive weeks. In the process, he created Brunchbunch.com.

As part of these brunches, Siegman brings 10 to 20 people together – half Chicago school children and the other half adult professionals.

Jackson, a prospective finance major, was able to meet up with a professional in his desired field of security trading. Jackson shadowed the trader for a couple of days and then went hunting for some work in the field for the summer. It was just when Jackson’s job search seemed hopeless when 11-10-02 stepped in an offered Jackson a summer internship grant writing at their offices in D.C.

“The internship really taught me a lot about grant writing and working diligently, and gave me great leadership experience,” Jackson said.

Jackson was once again surprised in an e-mail newsletter that an anonymous party had supplied $1,000 for a scholarship in his name. Jackson thinks that it is probably one of the adults he has met through the organization, either at the gala or one of the brunches.

Jackson is a member of the Emerging Leaders Program in the Hall on Virginia Avenue. He said he believes D.C. will be a great place for him to further his already established leadership credentials.

“I always put myself in leadership positions. It is where I am most comfortable,” Jackson said.

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