Homeless high school grad returns to Brooklyn to help kids like himself get to college

BEN CHAPMAN, New York Daily News | July 25, 2011

Homeless high school grad Orayne Williams has returned to the city after his first year away at college – and he’s on a mission to help other street kids get an education.

Williams, 19, was abandoned by his family and lived alone in city shelters, but managed to graduate with honors from Brooklyn‘s Bedford Academy last year.

After the Daily News published his inspirational story last June, readers opened their hearts and wallets – donating $15,000 and a full ride to Manhattanville College in Westchester.

Now he’s launched an ambitious new charity to help other needy kids get into college. “If I can do it, they can do it,” said Williams.

Even kids in the toughest situations can relate to Williams’ life story.

He suffered physical abuse as a young child growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, and came to live in America by himself at age 12. Through it all he never gave up on school – and it continues to pay off.

In his freshman year, he earned a 3.6 grade point average. He had no trouble settling into dorm life. “It’s much nicer than a shelter,” he said.

Williams will head back to college in the fall but, for now, he is working feverishly to get Progressive People Movement off the ground.

A dozen volunteers have already signed on to work with the charity. This fall they’ll visit shelters and community centers to tutor and counsel kids.  (Read more)