As a Summer 500 intern with Step Up Savannah, DeAndre learned a variety of skills and life lessons. Over the course of the summer, DeAndre became a valuable member of our team.
During our poverty simulation, DeAndre was assigned the role of an adult. He worked with his other “family members” to navigate the new terrain, including the locations of school, work, and where to pay the bills. The simulation represents one month, with each week being only 15 minutes long.
DeAndre quickly experienced how easy it can be to fall behind on housing costs, and his family was soon evicted. They struggled to pay for food for several weeks. They were also frustrated with the time required to wait in lines to apply for jobs and benefits. Their time was precious and they were suffering. At the end of the simulation, DeAndre and his pseudo family members were told that this type of life is not uncommon and that more than a quarter of individuals in Savannah face this reality every day.
During his last few days at Step Up, we spoke to him about his thoughts on poverty. He shared with us, “a lot of people go through it and it’s not something to take lightly”. Based on his experience, DeAndre felt compelled to design a Step Up mascot as his final project.
When asked what he gained from Step Up, DeAndre said he learned “some new tech skills, word excel, Photoshop, a little InDesign, Office, and PowerPoint.” DeAndre presented his final project with these new skills, through Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and PowerPoint.
As a part of Summer 500, the students were encouraged to join a Step Up supported bank or credit union. As a part of this process, the students signed up for direct deposit. For most students, this was their very first paycheck and bank account. For DeAndre, that was also true. With his very first paycheck and direct deposit, he began saving. We asked him if he saved any money from the summer, and how he saves money, “yeah. I have both a savings and a checking account” he answered. He mentions that he automatically puts a portion of his check into savings.
After he saved some, he wanted to treat himself with coffee and ice cream. His long term savings goal is to visit France and Morocco.
DeAndre is going to be a Junior at Jenkins High School.