ASAP Fall Appeal Debate Feature

Debate alum Merley found her voice after school

Dear Friend,

As ASAP looks toward our next 20 years of service, our rallying call is “After School: We Build Futures,” in recognition of the critical role after school programs and mentors play in helping young people fulfill their dreams. Young people like ASAP Debate alum Merley Lafleur.

Merley finds her place with debate

After leaving her native Haiti, Merley’s first years navigating the Philadelphia public school system were challenging. Bolstered by her strong faith and pride in her Haitian heritage, Merley slowly found her place at Frankford, a neighborhood high school in lower Northeast Philly.

Then, in her junior year, Merley realized that to achieve the future she envisioned, she needed to be able to advocate for herself. She needed to find her voice.

Caring Adults Leading Debate

Consequently, under the guidance of her African-American History teacher, Ms. Kathy Bender, Merley captained Frankford’s first team in over a decade to join ASAP’s Scholastic Debate League, where they competed against the best debaters in the city.

Merley Finds Her Voice at Debate

Although daunting at first, Merley learned to pore through dense evidence packets, craft concise and compelling arguments, and express her ideas with confidence.

After School: We Build Futures

Next, she graduated from Frankford ultimately taking the research skills and determination she honed through ASAP Debate helped carry Merley through the rigors of a degree in bioengineering at Temple University. Now a graduate student at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, she hopes to apply her debate experience to provide the best care for the communities she serves.

After School Matters

For debate alum Merley, to care for her community means advocating for after school programs – especially at a time of unprecedented gun violence and withering faith in our public schools.

And essential to these programs, like ASAP Debate, are the caring adults who lend their time and talents to help young people thrive. Merley fondly recalls Ms. Bender and all of her mentors, and every pep talk and life lesson that has helped shape her character and chart her path forward.

How you can help!

That’s why we need your help

As ASAP enters its third decade, we are committed to connecting children in Philadelphia with the resources, the experiences, and the mentors that can put their dreams within reach.

With the generosity of people like you, ASAP can be the partner our schools, our educators and our families deserve. And together, we can build a better future for young people in our city.

In this important work, we are most grateful for your support.

Your friends at ASAP

Double your impact!

P.S. Thanks to the generosity of the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, every donation made to ASAP before December 31st will be matched up to $25,000!! Give today and double your impact!!