A Better Chance Awards

Seniors Isaiah Washington (l) and Ajibola Bodunrin pose with headmaster Ben Williams with their respective A Better Chance awards – Sarah Kidwell for Cate School.

Seniors Isaiah Washington and Ajibola Bodunrin recently received awards from A Better Chance —  an organization committed to the educational success of young people of color. The awards recognize their academic achievements and contributions to the Cate community. Isaiah received the Academic Achievement Award, annually given to select seniors for “outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated leadership abilities.” Ajibola received the Nancy J. Lucas Memorial award in recognition of outstanding academic performance and “demonstrated leadership in promoting equity and justice.” Both awards are accompanied by small grants for the graduating seniors to apply to college expenses.

Founded in 1963, A Better Chance’s “mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.” The organization recruits and pairs gifted students to elite participating prep schools around the country. It also provides continual support and guidance to its scholars after they’ve started their high school careers. 

Both seniors expressed their gratitude for the monetary contributions but noted that were also thankful for the support they received from the organization over the course of their academic careers. Isaiah mentioned the valuable relationships he was able to build with peers and mentors around the country through ABC. Ajibola echoed his classmate's appreciation and respect for the organization. "The program is filled with so many talented people and I am so proud that I was able to be one of those students that they recognized this year."

Director of Outreach and Recruitment Kyle Mason has worked closely with ABC and several similar programs for the past eight years. In his role at Cate, Mason has acted as the first point of contact for prospective students and their families, traveling to schools and conferences around the country. Cate has been home to students from ABC, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), Inspiring Young Minds, and others for many years. “It’s not always easy for these students coming to a place like Cate. Only with preparation and desire and a willingness to take yourself out of a comfort zone to grow, can you do really well,” says Mason. "Cate is a better place for the diversity we have, not just ethnic diversity but different family experiences and life experiences, different economic statuses. This is the only place where a kid from the urban section of Cincinnati can meet a kid from Ghana or Korea and have their mind blown by how different we are — and at the same time by how beautifully similar we are.”

Mason says he has seen both Isaiah and Ajibola grow and thrive at Cate. “They’ve both done exceedingly well academically.” Isaiah and Ajibola are set to graduate in a few weeks and both will be headed to the University of Pennsylvania.