AlumniLearnServe Fellows

10×10: Yasmine

Yasmine Arrington

LearnServe Fellow 2010, LearnServe Zambia 2010


When people ask who I am it’s like, “I am Yasmine Arrington, ScholarCHIPS.”  ScholarCHIPS is part of me.

My father was in and out of prison my entire life, and that had a financial effect on my family, as well as an emotional effect on me.  This demographic of children, and teenagers, with parents in prison – they’re unfortunately the forgotten, the invisible, as if they’re not important, or this is their destiny.

I started ScholarCHIPS to grant college scholarships to high school graduating seniors with parents in prison.  I come from a standpoint where I understand where they’re coming from – I feel it, I understand it.  Without a college education your possibilities are extremely limited.  Having a parent in prison is a really taboo issue – but it’s important to understand that having a parent who’s gone causes a financial gap, financial stress in the household, and college is very expensive.  If we can provide financial assistance to youth who want to go to college, I think that is pretty important.

More than 200,000 children in this country are estimated to have an imprisoned mother and more than 1.6 million have an imprisoned father.  Our nation’s incarcerated population is growing by 6.5% each year on average – so the number of children with parents in prison will likely continue to increase.  Already more than half of state prisoners are parents of children under 18.

Over the past three years we have raised more than $20,000 towards scholarships, and have filed to become an independent non-profit organization.  We have already awarded seven $2,500 scholarships and seven $250 book awards to graduating high school students from DC area schools.

I can honestly say that LearnServe changed my life in a powerful way.  LearnServe taught us about social entrepreneurship, why it’s important for young people to be passionate about issues in their communities, and to be proactive about finding solutions to these issues.  Through the LearnServe Fellows Program I was able to form ScholarCHIPS.  I feel that ScholarCHIPS has allowed me to grow as an individual.  It has helped me become more me.  I have started blogging to stay aware of what’s going on around me, and I’m planning to apply for a research grant on incarceration.

Gandhi had a saying that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  I fully believe that.  I am so fortunate to be able to help other people.  There really is nothing in this world that can compare to the feeling of doing good.


Yasmine Arrington graduated from the LearnServe Fellows Program and LearnServe Zambia in 2010.  Yasmine is a graduate of Benjamin Banneker Academic Senior High School and is now a student at Elon University.  She is founder of ScholarCHIPS.

LearnServe 10×10 interviews and profiles compiled by Melanie Barlow (Fellows 2010) and Julia Peck (Fellows 2011).  Additional quotes from Yasmine Arrington borrowed from the film produced by Chris Tyree for Yasmine’s 2012 Linowes Leadership Award.

Celebrate our 10th Anniversary with us on November 6th.

5 thoughts on “10×10: Yasmine

  1. Yasmine,
    I am really inspired by your accomplishments, due to the struggles you had to get past to be where you are today. As a graduate of a DCPS school, it gives current students inspiration to be able to accomplish anything they put there minds too. By being a sibling of a disabled brother, I feel that not enough states fund enough for disabled children and that gives a huge amount of money for the parents and carers to deal with and I feel by taking your mindset and maybe starting a funding for parents with disabled siblings to get given a grant for low income or parents that can not afford the equipment required for there children. I would like to thank you for putting so much work into something you believe and inspiring others to follow.

  2. Hello Yasmine.
    your project is really amazing and it has huge positive effect on people and communities that surround these children , imagine these children been misled this will cause social issues and Economic as well, Education is the only way to eliminate poverty and misled generation , your project brings hope to teens who need these opportunities.
    I have watched your videos on YouTube and i loved the idea ,
    i hope this program spreads internationally and gets supported into a higher level

    Thank you for making the world a better place to live .

  3. The thing that you do is really helpful to society,I would like to help but I’m an exchange student and I’m not gonna be in US.
    But at least I can say that you are so brave ! Keep going !

  4. ScholarCHIPS is doing tremendous good at the moment in the DC metropolitan area. People without a college education, like you stated, Ms. Arrington, face an enormous disadvantage already – but the financial burden that having an incarcerated parent entails is even greater, and potentially detracts from getting a college degree. This is a venture that is making big strides in solving one of the biggest social problems, one that often goes under the radar because it is taboo to even discuss it. The scholarships may seem small to some, but they mean so much to the recipients, and speak volumes about ScholarCHIPS’s main goal, and your motivation as well. I think that the model the venture’s based on, which seem to be micro-loans, is very successful, and you certainly made the right choice in that regard. Overall, what I deeply admire is your drive – no matter what challenges have come before you, you have always risen above them and carried on.

  5. Hello,

    I initially read about you and watched a video about you in my Global Issues class with Mr. Cunningham. I was quite impressed with your story, and after reading it a second time I was able to really think about what you did and how it relates to me. I do find happiness in aiding others, so I enjoyed your Gandhi quote, but I often find it hard to help other when I am always caught up in my own personal matters. What can I do in my everyday life to make a difference? Also, I am struggling to find an original social venture that I am passionate about like you did. Do you have any advice? And finally, what perspective should I take when selecting an issue I am passionate about?

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