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Formerly Homeless Student Starts Nonprofit to Help His Peers Get to College

19-year-old student Orayne Williams got his first home when he went to college. Now he's working to get other homeless teens there, too.


Nineteen-year-old New York City student Orayne Williams knows a lot about how to avoid becoming a statistic. Last year Williams, who was abandoned by his family when he was 12 and spent his teen years living in homeless shelters, managed to graduate from high school with honors and enrolled at Manhattanville College on a full scholarship. His campus dormitory was his first non-shelter home in years.

His achievements are so inspiring that the New York Daily News made him their success story of 2010 and their readers generously donated $15,000 to him. But Williams is determined to not be a happy exception. Last November, he founded a new nonprofit, the Progressive People Movement, Inc, which hopes to help at-risk "youth break free from the cycles of homelessness, incarceration, poverty and failure."

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