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01 Nov 2011 - 24 Jul 2015
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HOMENEWSHOUSING PROJECT HAS ADVOCATE IN ALUMNUS
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HOUSING PROJECT HAS ADVOCATE IN ALUMNUS
Shiv Newaldass (C'03) credits Georgetown's Sursum Corda Literacy Program with keeping him "focused, in school and out of the streets" as a child growing up in a low-income housing development. Photo courtesy of Shiv Newaldass
APRIL 28, 2011 – SHIV NEWALDASS (C’03) COULDN’T BEAR to see his neighbors in the Washington, D.C., Sursum Corda housing project evicted or misled, so he quit his lucrative real estate job and started advocating for his fellow residents.
After Newaldass quit his job, he spent two years working 12-hour days as an advocate for no pay.
But then he got a job with Manna, a nonprofit that develops affordable housing and provides step-by-step assistance for low-income potential buyers.
STAYING FOCUSED
Newaldass moved as a child with his family from Trinidad to Sursum Corda, a low-income housing development known as a drug trade hub since the 1980s.
He got his first introduction to Georgetown through its Sursum Corda Literacy Program.
“What really kept me focused, in school, and out of the streets were my tutoring sessions,” said Newaldass, who majored in English at Georgetown.
Newaldass came from an English-speaking household, but his immigrant status placed him in a remedial class for non-native English speakers. With help from English Professor John Hirsh (who runs the literacy program) and others, the Trinidad native earned a scholarship to a Jesuit high school, then to Georgetown.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING
As director of advocacy at Manna, Newaldass organizes citizens to lobby city hall for affordable housing programs and responds to legislative developments or budget cuts that could cause housing shortages.
“Growing up in Sursum Corda, I saw firsthand the impact of poor public policy,” he explained. “If no one helps people buy their own homes, they become trapped in poverty and dependent on subsidies.”
Georgetown’s Sursum Corda-Georgetown University Tutoring Program, created in 1970, sends undergraduates to the neighborhood twice a week to teach reading skills and to mentor students. The program is one of the oldest partnerships of its kind in the United States.
A HIGHER GOOD
As a first-year student at the university, Newaldass shied away from becoming a Sursum Corda tutor.
“I was worried that if other Georgetown students found out where I grew up, they’d look down on me,” he said.
But then he changed his mind and began tutoring. “The kids respected that Shiv was a successful college student from their own neighborhood,” Hirsh said.
Newaldass remains close friends with Hirsh, and he makes an annual visit to Georgetown to advise each new crop of Sursum Corda tutors.
“Georgetown taught me to work toward a higher good,” he said.
 
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