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Style Magazine Honors Danny Yates, Hinche Scholars with “Top 40 under 40”

October 19, 2011

A special thank you to Richmond’s Style Magazine for choosing to honor Hinche Scholars founder Danny Yates in this week’s annual “Top 40 Under 40” edition. We are very grateful for this special recognition and believe that it stands as a testament to the initial success of our I Have a Dream Foundation – Hinche Scholars Project.

Our hats go off to reporter Melissa Sinclair and photographer Scott Elmquist who did a great job of describing Danny Yates’ vision and how the Richmond community helped transform this dream into the reality known todays the Hinche Scholars project. See text and photo of this article (below).

Most of us don’t think about Haiti anymore.

Danny Yates never stopped trying to help.

Yates was in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, acting as an interpreter for a Richmond Catholic group. After witnessing the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Yates immediately began thinking about how he, and Richmonders, could help rebuild.

In partnership with the I Have a Dream Foundation, Richmond, Yates vowed to bring four Haitian students to the United States so they could complete their educations and then return “to make substantial change in their community.”

Such a simple goal — but the obstacles proved to be enormous. Federal standards restricted colleges’ acceptance of international students. The four students’ academic records had been destroyed. Their visas were denied. Despite the support of many Richmonders, including Rep. Eric Cantor and former Gov. Tim Kaine, a discouraged Yates almost abandoned the project.

Then in July, the visas came through. The four Haitian students started class at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College this fall. They’re still getting accustomed to American life, Yates says, from deciphering class schedules to operating a garbage disposal. Yates is searching for sponsors to help pay their tuition after May.

As for Yates, he’s not sure what he’ll do after graduating from the College of William and Mary. He’s spending the spring semester at the University of Martinique and then considering law school. He definitely wants to live here, where he grew up, he says: “Seeing Richmond through these students’ eyes has made me realize how lucky we are in Richmond. … Although some things are broken, we’ve come a long way.”

– Melissa Sinclair (Style Weekly reporter)

Style Weekly Photo of Top 40 Honoree Danny Yates (picture by Scott Elmquist)

Style Weekly Photo of Top 40 Honoree Danny Yates (picture by Scott Elmquist, taken at Maggie Walker Governor's School)

Congratulations to the 39 other 2011 Style Magazine Top 40 under 40 honorees. To access an electronic version of this story, please click here.

Thank you, and as always, please keep supporting our four displaced students from Hinche, Haiti as they continue to excel in their studies at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. Every donation goes a long way to help us maintain this project and acheive our long-term goal: developing four young people as Haiti’s future leaders.

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