For two years, teen brothers Rusty and River Fields have operated a Saturday tutoring program for kids 5 through 13 from their home in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“Because kids were starting to sound apathetic, like things are the way they are and never going to change,” elder brother Rusty, 17, said about the students they tutor in the economically-depressed neighborhood.
Rusty and Rivers, 15, told Metro that they practice a philosophy of “each one, teach one.” If everyone donates their time to mentoring and making a difference to one person, the benefits grow exponentially, they said.
Tutoringis just one the many things The Fields Foundation, their registered nonprofit, does to propel their mission to expand intellectual horizons for inner city youth. They also established the Bainbridge Times, a local paper to give a voice to their community and support businesses, and for the past four weeks, they've been raising money to sponsor 40 kids for a road trip to Harvard.
The brothers said they loved their experience at the first session of the 2016 annual Angela R. Matthew High School Seminar Program at Harvard Mock Trial Association and they wanted to share the opportunity for the role-playing trial experience with other kids.
But they found themselves in a bit of a cash pickle when four spots quickly turned into a promise to 40 high schoolers for an all-expense paid trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts, that would cost a total of $15,000 in transportation, food and accommodations.
“We’ve been aggressively fundraising,“ said Rusty. “We wanted this to be absolutely free so there would be no barrier to get involved.”
The brothers have raised money by hosting event dinners and bake sales, and started a GoFundMe campaign.
Just a day before their bus was supposed to leave from Bainbridge Street, they were still $2,000 shy of their goal, but the brothers remained confident that they would raise the money with the help of churches, businesses and community members.
One major donor is Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who met with the brothers on Thursday to give them a pep talk.
“I would prefer these students in the halls of Harvard than in the halls of Rikers Island,” Adams told them.
The brothers, who both want to be neurosurgeons, said their father and the borough president are their role models.
"He taught us persistence and perseverance. If you have a goal, just keep working with it," Rivers said of Adams.