Before snow fell last Friday, Feb. 8, Russell Wilson and Ciara surprised a group of students from Foster High School at the Tukwila Library with an inspirational message for achieving their dreams.
The duo were there with members of their Why Not You Foundation in partnership with the King County Library System, KCLS Foundation and JPMorgan Chase to announce a new campaign — DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible.
The DREAM BIG campaign encourages high school students to utilize the wide range of teen programs and resources offered at community libraries, according to the Why Not You Foundation.
Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke with attendees at the library about their vision with this new campaign. Russell said their foundation is named Why Not You after a question his dad used to ask him. He said his dad would ask “why don’t you graduate early?” or “why don’t you play professional baseball?”
Russell told attendees we should ask ourselves that verbally — ask “why can’t I be successful?” He added that successful people don’t just ask that question. They find the answer to it.
Ciara told guests “all it takes is one person to believe in you and that’s you.”
Along with the announcement of the new campaign, the Wilsons unveiled two limited edition library cards created by artist Keegan Hall that feature Russell and Ciara.
The library cards are available at all 48 KCLS locations and all 83 JPMorgan Chase branches throughout King County. The cards will be available through June while supplies last.
Hall designed the library cards to fit side by side like a puzzle. The cards include dream inspired images floating above Russell and Ciara — the dream images include a Super Bowl trophy, a Grammy and other things near and dear to the Wilsons.
To end Friday’s event, Russell and Ciara announced a $100,000 in Why Not You scholarship to help students achieve their post-high school educational dreams. Their foundation in partnership with the College Success Foundation is looking for students in King County to be a Why Not You Scholar.
Eight scholars will be selected this spring — four will receive $20,000 ($5,000 per year for four years) to attend a four-year public institution and four other students will receive $5,000 ($2,5000 per year for two years) to attend a community college or trade school, according to the foundation.
“It’s been a blessing,” the Wilsons said of being able to start this scholarship program for eight local students.
The duo wants to help students get to college. “It’s a dream for us,” they said.
To keep students out of the know before Russell and Ciara’s surprise arrival, the students were asked to write down their dreams.
Students wrote down anything from makeup artist to model to becoming a singer.
Ciara later read a handful of the students’ dreams including Foster senior My’Keal Mosby — who wrote down makeup artist.
“When she (read mine out loud), I started crying,” Mosby said. “It was like I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”
A couple of volunteers also got up to discuss what it means to “dream big.”
Foster student Lamar spoke that to dream big is to do something you wanted to as a child. It means to influence you not to give up, to be excellent at your craft. Foster student Muhammad said dream big means something you are hungry for, that you won’t give up. Try your best and prove them wrong, he continued.
“Being here in a public library gives attention to the great work we do,” Lisa Rosenblum, KCLS executive director said.
One of the programs available to high school students is Teen Voices. The program which was piloted in 2017-2018 at the Tukwila Library will now branch out to five other locations — Auburn, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent and Renton.
Teen Voices helps to instill valuable and translatable skills for future success including project management, collaboration and leadership skills, according to the foundation.
Rosenblum added the Teen Voices program also gives students the opportunity to learn public speaking and budgeting.
The pilot program at the Tukwila Library included 145 student participants who earned community service credit for participation.
The students also planned a Teen Voices Summit that focused on discussion topics from immigration, racial equity to bullying and mental health, the release continued.
Phyllis Campbell, chair of JPMorgan Chase Northwest Division, spoke to the attending students Friday on the potential she sees in them. Campbell told attendees when she was growing up in Spokane, her mom used to take her to the library weekly.
“I see a connection with libraries, education and employment,” she said.
Applications for the Why Not You Scholarship will be available March 1 and are due by March 31. Visit WhyNotYouFdn.org/DREAMBIG.