Total loan: $10,000


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Columbus, OH, United States / Services

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A loan helped to print the newest editions of Xceptional Teen Magazine, boost our visibility and empower teen writers.

Shola's story

My happiness lies in sharing all that I possess with people especially the at-risk through the utilization of my talents, skills, knowledge and resources. It is my mission to empower millions of people and leave this world in a better state than how I met it. As a US citizen who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, I have so much to give to the world through my power of writing. As a child, I have always been challenged by one of Benjamin Franklin’s quote “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I started making magazines as a child by ripping my notebooks and folding them into pages after pages. My younger siblings’ notebooks were not spared. I enjoyed staying up all night to design my "weekly magazine" named Royal Magazine. My passion for writing and empowering people continued through high school and I became known in my neighborhood for "Royal Magazine." Neighbors and classmates fought to be the first to read the latest editions of Royal Magazine. Each latest edition of Royal Magazine was passed from one neighbor to another and from one classmate to the next. I came up with the roaster when I could not handle "But am the first person that told you that when you finish the magazine you should pass it to me." Neighbors fought each other for the magazine and inspired me to continue writing. Wonderful memories :) I didn’t stop at making my own magazine within the comfort of my parents’ home. I wrote articles and dropped them off at major publishing firms in Lagos, Nigeria. Yes, I personally dropped them off because there was no functioning postal service like we have here in the United States. For many years, I took trips to publishing companies, dropped my articles, mingled to learn from editors and went home with dozens of publications for free. Magazines and books were my most prized possessions at that time and till date. I own more books and magazines than clothes and shoes combined! Years after I settled in the United States and had gone through all the magazines available at my local libraries and stores magazine racks, I told myself I could produce outstanding educational magazine compared to what are available to teenagers. I was shocked to my bone marrow to read editorials of popular teen magazines due to the messages they preach. I got to work and designed a media kit, template and solicited for quotes from printing companies. As we all know, advertising is a major component of publishing and I was not able to secure advertisements to debut the magazine. Life got in the way, I could not afford the magazine printing cost and decided to start a newsletter instead. I started a 4-pages monthly newsletter for teenagers named XCEPTIONAL Teen Monthly and distributed each edition to high schools and community centers. Despite the great feedback from teens, educators and parents, I was not fulfilled. I wanted to give more and do more. I wanted to create a 40- pages magazine filled with uplifting articles and true life stories that will inspire parents, teens, educators and every reader. I wanted to create a platform for talented teenagers who are not into sports but arts (writing, painting, sculpture, music, dance, acting to name a few). I have the burning desire to provide that special platform for our children to showcase their talents, share their struggles and triumph stories to encourage other teens. It is plain simple that not all children will become famous athletes in high school or drafted after graduation. I wanted an avenue for teens with other talents and interests to shine and use their voices positively. I kept my dream close to my heart as I furthered by education, enlisted in the United States Armed Forces as my way of saying “Thank You America for giving me renewed hope that I can achieve anything I set my mind to accomplish.” Because I believe that “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I spent so many years traveling and visiting rural communities in Africa establishing public libraries and spreading the gift of love. I kept writing, researching and talking about my dream magazine. For so many years, I was reminded that there is time for everything. And yes! The time came! This past September, my “real” magazine dream was born. September 5th 2016, a day I will never forget and will always serve as XCEPTIONAL Teen Magazine 'XTM" anniversary. One of my set goals for 2016 was to give XTM everything I have got to bring it to life and I did just that (wait till my autobiography debuts to read all I went through to make XTM and other dreams happen :) I have been told that I dream too big but I want to use my life through XTM and other projects to encourage and remind target audience and the world at large that no dream is too big to accomplish. I published 5,000 copies of XCEPTIONAL Teen Magazine with no paid advertisement or monetary support from anyone. I have been “wowing” people with the magazine ever since! The quality is topnotch for a new magazine have been reminded hundreds of time by people that have come in contact with the magazine. But guess what? I am not resting but working harder to keep the dream alive! Rome was not built in a day and I will continue to strive to make each edition of XTM better than the previous. I have been working on the second edition with a team of 15 high school students from all walks of life. The second edition of XTM is set to go to press as I seek funding to make it possible. My teen editorial board and teen writers are super excited and looking forward to see their names in the second edition. (Their excitements always remind me of when I was a teenager like them and how I look forward to running to the magazine stores to check if my article was published that week). The feeling is PRICELESS! XCEPTIONAL Teen Magazine is not your regular teen magazine. As an advocate who strive to prevent teens from ending up in prisons, I came up with the idea to run a regular column named TEENS BEHIND BARS through which juvenile inmates will share their true- life stories with readers, such as what led them to prison, the lessons they’ve learnt, what would they have done differently, what’s next for them if given a second chance and what advice do they have for teens threading the same path they took that led them to prison. This is my favorite column out of the 25 columns running in XCEPTIONAL Teen magazine. It is not only therapeutic for the inmates to share their stories but this column will save lives outside the prisons. I believe there is greatness within every child, no child is a bad child if they are presented with opportunities to thrive. As a gratitude for your support, a copy of the current edition of XTM can be sent to you. Please provide your mailing address in a message to xceptionalwoman@gmail.com