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For 50 years, A Better Chance has been molding scholars from underprivileged areas

<i>WCCO</i><br/>Edina's A Better Chance has been molding scholars from underprivileged areas.
Edina's A Better Chance has been molding scholars from underprivileged areas.

By Derek James

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    Derek James (WCCO) — It’s a longtime, but little-known, program that has a 99% graduation rate. For 50 years, it is has been providing talented young People of Color from around the country an opportunity to get a better high school education than they otherwise would.

At just 14, Adaolisa Mba left everything she knew in Miami, Florida to get a better education through A Better Chance, a national nonprofit.

“It’s a scary thing to be leaving your home, leaving your family,” she said.

Mba is one of five teen girls from around the country who live in a house with a resident director during the week. The schoolwork is rigorous.

“I’m talking AP calc PC. I’m a TA this year for my AP psych teacher. I’m taking Spanish 3, AP bio, human anatomy,” she said.

Edina ABC Scholars also participate in extra-curriculars and community service, Mba is on the tennis team and volunteers at church. On weekends, they go on adventures.

“We have a gala coming up, so we went thrifting as a house. It was really fun being able to pick out clothes and try things on with the other girls,” Mba said.

The scholars also spend time with volunteer host families on Sundays. Erica Allenburg and her family have opened up their home to scholars for about a decade now.

“It takes sometimes a couple of Sundays, sometimes it takes six months, sometimes it takes a year for them to feel like part of the family — but eventually it just becomes routine,” Allenburg said.

She feels they get more back than they give.

“They make you, my husband and I and my children want to be better people because of who they are, their integrity, how hard they work, their bravery,” she said.

After graduation, Mba plans to study psychology and possibly work in medicine, but probably not in Minnesota.

“I’m looking toward the coasts. I think I’m done with the Midwest and the winter and everything,” she said.

Mba says she is applying to some Ivy League schools.

Edina ABC raises 80% of the program’s funds at the Hats Off To Our Scholars Gala. It’s Nov. 13 at Interlachen Country Club in Edina.

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