Motivational Book to Raise Black Scholarship Dollars
By Dianne Anderson
About this time last year, Clarisa Howard set out at the onset of COVID-19 wanting to give something of substance back to the community, something that would stick with the teens and adults long after they put their crayons down.
In “Clarisa Can: A little Girl’s journey to Success” Howard imparts timeless guidance that helped her and others of her generation reach success.
Across San Bernardino where she grew up, there’s been a great level of personal loss and closures of businesses during the pandemic, and she believes everyone could use some extra inspiration right about now.
“From our own parents, we got their desire to make sure that if we made it, that we would give back to the community,” she said. “In that time, there was a lot of camaraderie and neighborly love and the emphasis on education.”
All proceeds from the inspirational coloring book for teens will support local scholarships for African American high school students in San Bernardino and Rialto unified school districts. Her goal is to raise $100,000, to be divided between those two districts.
The book is in honor of two of her nephews who died just as their young lives were starting out. Anthony Nichols Jr. died at 19 of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his senior year of high school, and DeVoghn Allen, who died in his early 20’s.
She hopes that the book will help those who may not otherwise have an opportunity to go to college. Inspired by her mom, Howard feels that San Bernardino may not be the easiest place to succeed, but one of the most important lessons she learned was that true success is measured by helping others.
And, Howard knows a little something about success.
In the book, she describes when one of the divisions of her company was on contract with NASA, and some of their work with the space shuttle.
Along with her husband and a partner, they started their software engineering firm with just $2,500 and a dream, long hours and smart work, which burgeoned to 325 employees in various locations. She sold the company in 2006 to a multi-billion corporation.
Born and raised in the San Bernardino Valley Truck Farms, she is all too aware of the needs of local students. Howard attended Pacific High School and San Bernardino Vally College, and graduated from the University of Redlands School of Business.
All her siblings have also seen success. One sister was tapped to be the deputy secretary of HUD under the Clinton Administration, and another leads the largest outreach for low-income support services in San Bernardino County. Her brothers opened automotive shops in San Bernardino.
She said the book emphasizes lasting adages, such as matters of personal integrity, reputation, and putting the necessary time and effort toward achievement.
“My mother would say you can’t hoot with owls and soar with the eagles, and that’s to say we couldn’t stay out all night and expect to be our best,” she said.
Given the right resources, she feels that any child or teen can choose success, and achieve. However, they can’t do it alone.
“With more of us, that have made a better life, willing and able to go back to the communities and talk to the children to make a better difference in their lives, that will start the process,” she said.
The book also holds snippets of her fondest memories, like an illustration of times when she was pulling 60 to 70 hours a week, and needed to break out.
“I would take my roller skates and her wheel chair, we would get in the car and go from Torrance beach rollerskating, and spend hours just enjoying each other,” she said.
Growing up, she, her sister, and brother regularly would also go out to help with dinners and turkeys and Christmas gifts for the community. The mindset was instilled early on by parents and neighbors that everyone can help out.
“It’s gratifying to know that I lived in that era, and there was a closeness of communication between parents and children, neighbors and parents and neighbors and their children,” she said.
She wants to see kids growing up with a sense of purpose that shaped her childhood. Other hopeful goals include connecting with all local school districts to offer the book as a potential inspirational elective for summer reading or summer coloring for teens.
“We did have those very words of wisdom that resonates with people, like your word is your bond and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Those things became a motivation for me to emphasize integrity and excellence in our business life, as well as home life,” she said.
To learn more about how to support the cause, see https://www.facebook.com/Clarisacancoloringbook/timeline