President Obama once said he didn't want kids today wanting to be just "ballers and rappers," but rather aspiring to be scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers and even President of the United States. I have been successful getting my inner-city students in Schenectady to graduation, but I want so much more for them and want them to see the path for better opportunities. Erin Gruwell did that with her students. Through her methodology, popularized by The Freedom Writers Diary and the Freedom Writers movie starring Hilary Swank, she not only got her diverse crowd of at-risk students through high school, which was a feat in itself, but also through college and, for some, PhD studies. I want to learn what she did, from her and from her former students. I have been accepted to be part of the small group at the five-day immersion Freedom Writers Institute in Long Beach, Calif., from Aug. 8-12, but I need to find the sponsors to get there. I have tried to get community support, but I don't think I'm a good enough salesman. I am a good teacher, and want to learn how to be better and come back and share with others in the Capital Region. The Schenectady Teacher Center has already given me $2,000 of the total workshop fee, which includes travel, lodging and food as well as materials and a class set of Freedom Writers books for students. Now I need to raise the rest to bring this successful program back home to my friends at Schenectady High, the Capital District Writing Project and the National Board group, in addition to offering help to pre-service teachers at my old stomping grounds at Union College, the University at Albany, the College of St. Rose, and Schenectady County Community College. I'm excited about this opportunity and hope you will be able to be a part of it by donating today. I greatly appreciate any help you can give, no matter how large or small, to this cause.