In 2010, Jason Williams founded and launched the Aspire Movement, a mentoring ministry geared toward developing and deploying the next generation of leaders through mutually transforming relationships. But why?
The answer is two-fold: his testimony and God’s call on his life.
In 1996, Jason was arrested and charged with 3 felonies. He lost his division 1 basketball scholarship at George Mason University. He described his worldview as "ghetto nihilism" which is a prevailing philosophy in urban America. Life is short, nothing matters, so live for the moment. After more arrests and a year at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Florida, Williams moved to Birmingham, Alabama, a decision that would forever change his life.
After graduating from Birmingham Southern College, Jason repented for his sinful ways and surrendered his life to Christ. He immediately felt a clear call to minister to at-risk urban youth who grew up with some of the same issues he faced. Williams' conviction that urban youth lack social capital and encouragement led him to start a life on life mentoring program that matches students with Godly role models to walk alongside each other in a dignity-affirming relationship.
Sometimes, an infusion of hope and help from the outside is all that is needed to make a monumental difference. That is where mentors and volunteers come in. They are tasked with being a model, encouragement, friend, and advisor to the children over the course of many years. We started with a small group of pioneering mentors in 2011 who were matched with 4th graders at Restoration Academy. In just 3 years, Aspire had expanded to impact over 250 students in 12 schools. Now after 9 years, we currently have mentors at CJ Donald, Avondale, Oliver, Tuggle & Princeton Elementary, as well as Fairfield Middle, Fairfield High, Restoration Academy, Cornerstone School and more. We also facilitate small group mentoring at 3 schools - Brighton Elementary, Wylam K-8, and Rising Hope Academy.
Aspire grew out of a movement of Christians who desire to see God glorified and lives impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing that transformation best occurs in the context of relationship, we at Aspire value people over programs. We intentionally engage in mutually-transforming relationships with youth, working with them to bring hope and healing to the community while addressing our own needs for the restorative power of Jesus. We place godly advocates in the lives of elementary school students who are committed to walking alongside the children in an intentional way.
The Aspire Movement's hope is to train a new generation of leaders from the community to be the gospel change agents of tomorrow. Our vision is to see mentors placed in the lives of students all over Birmingham and beyond. Ultimately, we at Aspire believe that communities will be restored by indigenous leaders that are intentionally developed and deployed through gospel-centered, mutually-transformative relationships.