News Release

Victory Project Shows How to Be ‘Superman’ to Kids

Written by Kristen Spicker and Cornelius Frolik for Dayton Daily News – Ashton Morgan was homeless in his late teens. Everyday life was a struggle.

Morgan grew up in the Five Oaks neighborhood in northwest Dayton and experienced trauma. When he was 9 years old his apartment building and sister’s car were riddled with gunfire.

Morgan became a student with the Victory Project as a teenager and, now 32, he shows how the program can help lift kids from difficult backgrounds onto solid ground.

The Victory Project in Old North Dayton has been credited with helping improve the trajectory of the lives of at-risk kids – something needed now as much as ever as local juvenile courts see increasing delinquency and Dayton police see juvenile bookings increase in recent months to the highest level in five years.

The privately funded nonprofit is focused on helping “disengaged young men” avoid three things that perpetuate generational poverty – dropping out of high school, getting a criminal record and having a baby prior to marriage, said founder and CEO Monnie Bush.

When the Victory Project first started it only served kids who were in the juvenile justice system, and Bush said he designed the program around what he learned from talking to the kids in the system and kids who were locked up and their families.

Now it is aimed at helping boys and young men who aren’t working and aren’t engaged in sports or extracurricular activities.

Life on the streets for some young people can feel like a constant struggle between “predator and prey” where they have to always be on high-alert, act tough and not let their guard down, Bush said.

The Victory Project offers a safe environment where young people can decompress, be themselves and benefit from tutoring, mentorship, educational assistance, paying work and other supports, Bush said.

Victory Project students and staff have meals together most nights, and it has a family-like environment.

The Victory Project at any given time serves about 50 to 60 young men in grades 8 to 12 (ages 12 to 18).

Morgan, who went on to finish high school and graduate from the police academy, served in law enforcement for seven years and plans to pursue a secondary education.

He said the Victory Project helped him regain control of his life and it has made a big difference in the lives of many young men from rough parts of the city where drugs, crime and bloodshed are common.

“For a situation like what I was in, you start to experience a loss of hope,” he said. “The Victory Project was kind of the Superman that saved me out of that situation.”

The Victory Project teaches self-discipline, job skills, integrity, spirituality and helps students develop other important character traits, and staff and students are authentic and truly care for each other, Morgan said.

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