KNOXVILLE— Johnson University welcomes Dametraus Jaggers as the director of its Future of Hope Institute.
Jaggers is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis in assessment, accountability and research.
The Future of Hope Institute is a program under Urban Alliance at Johnson University. The program serves as an opportunity for high school students in the Knoxville area to actively engage in their community through service and leadership.
The program is designed for high-achieving sophomores, juniors, and seniors from Knoxville area high schools including: Fulton High School, Austin-East High School, West High School, Central High School, South Doyle and L&N STEM Academy.
The institute works by combining theological reflection, cultural analysis, spiritual formation, and vocational discernment.
Founded by the Lily Endowment, the Future of Hope Institute kicked off the 2016-2017 year at Wafloy Mountain Village in Gatlinburg, Tenn. During the three-day retreat, the team focused on team building, community development, and theological reflection. Later in the week, the team transitioned to downtown Knoxville for the second phase of the Future of Hope experience.
Jaggers believes the program is off to a good start so far but has room for improvement and growth.
“For our first year in existence, I think that we are having a great year,” he said. “We have been pleased with the engagement of our scholars within the program and we have a very strong group of interns who have developed strong relationships with our students.”
Future of Hope students gather during a summer training experience.
“I believe that we will need to think more about how we continue to engage our scholars once they have completed the first year of our program,” Jaggers said.
The Future of Hope Institute seeks to allow a group of high school students to serve together in the community and working on spiritual development each summer. These students are primarily from Knoxville’s Empowerment Zone neighborhoods.
The next step for students involves working alongside community leaders and mentors from partner agencies across Knoxville to strategically plan a community impact project. This project will provide a response to the issues facing the city of Knoxville and will take place over an eight-month time frame.
During this process, students are guided by Johnson University professors and interns to gain a Biblical perspective on current issues in the community.
At the end of the program there will be a banquet where the teams will present their completed projects to peers and community leaders.
Each participant who successfully completes the program receives a $2,000 scholarship to the college or university of their choice. Future of Hope students who decide to attend Johnson University will be eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per school year.
Future of Hope participants go on a hike to practice isolation and tranquility.
Jaggers mentioned one goal of Future of Hope is to better engage parents to feel equipped to support students throughout their participation in the Future of Hope Institute.
“I think we will be focusing on engaging and developing relationships with parents, continue to develop and strengthen relationships with pastors and churches, and provide more guidance and support to mentors and project advisors,” he said.