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30 graduate after program

Tiba Johnson, executive director of OOPS, said the foundation graduated 30 people in June through its online program. WILMINGTON – For Shamine Scruggs, 18, a traditional high school setting was not ideal. In a regular class setting, she liked to fool around and was unable to concentrate among so many other students. But when her Laney High School counselor told her about an online high school diploma program with the OOPS Foundation, she said she would give it a try.Now she said she has the possibility of getting her diploma as early as June.The Wilmington-based nonprofit OOPS Foundation, which stands for Offering Optimistic Plans for Success, provides many services from employability classes to classes on social media etiquette, but one main focus has been assisting individuals in completing their high school diploma. 

Tiba Johnson, executive director of OOPS, said the foundation graduated 30 people in June through its online program.Working through a nationally accredited partner, Johnson said the foundation offers enrollment and tutor assistance free of charge to students, and he said staff pushes participants to succeed.“Failure is not an option,” he said. “That’s kind of how we stress it. They kind of become our kids, so I always say we’ll be your biggest cheerleader or your worst nightmare.”Johnson said it’s rewarding to see kids, who maybe were not succeeding otherwise in a traditional setting, still complete their degree. And many, 27 of the past 30 graduates, have gone on to attend college.


At the most recent New Hanover County Board of Education meeting, Johnson spoke during the public comment period about the foundation’s work and asked the board for roughly $150,000 to help 30 dropouts from county schools.Hoping to expand the program to more students, he said the “sky’s the limit,” but that’s only if there is funding available. The foundation receives money through private donations.Johnson said he made the request because the school system already makes referrals to the foundation.

From start to finish, he said, graduation through the OOPS program costs about $5,000 a year per student depending on how many credits a student comes in with.But he compared that with $38,000 a year to incarcerate someone.“We will either deal with these individuals now or later if we don’t help them,” he said. Carl Newton, a graduation coach at Hoggard High School, said there is never a cut-and-dry reason why a student may decide to drop out or give up on the public school system.“Usually it is a bunch of things together, and the kids just can’t make it here,” he said. “The things that some of the kids are going through, we just can’t imagine. A lot of them are just out there trying to make it, but no two kids are alike.”With the option for online courses and a more flexible day, the OOPS Foundation has given kids another avenue to succeed.And that avenue is something Scruggs said has worked out successfully for her.As for finishing her diploma, she said she just wants to make her mom proud.“It will mean the whole world to me and to my mom,” she said. “The thing I want to do most is make my mom smile. I want her to know that I did this for her.”

ONLY ON 3: Home invasion suspect sought help before arrest

By Alexa Block -January 26, 2016 11:35 PM3

— This week three teenagers were arrested, accused of committing home invasions. Tuesday WWAY learned one of those teens had recently reached out to a non-profit aimed to help disadvantaged youth in the area.

Atiba Johnson, Executive Director of the O.O.P.S. foundation, said Tre’Vaugh Segar, 17, went to them for help getting his high school diploma less than two weeks ago.

“He wanted to make a change,” said Johnson. “At the time because of our funding I wasn’t able to enroll him in our high school diploma class, which that is one of the things he wanted to complete.”

Johnson said the teen also was interested in mentorship and job training.

O.O.P.S. stands for Offering Optimistic Plans for Success. The non-profit organization helps teens and adults get their high school diplomas, as well as provide mentorship, and job coaching.

“I saw on the news and read it in the newspaper, that he got caught up in something and my heart just went out to him,” Johnson said.

Johnson said they don’t like turning people away but the funding isn’t there.


“In our job we want to save them all, in just being realistic we know we can’t,” Johnson said. “To not be able to help someone is very frustrating.”

Johnson said the O.O.P.S. foundation relies on donations. He said it cost about $5,000 to get a student through the high school diploma program alone.

Johnson said he recently went to the New Hanover County School Board to ask for $150,000 to enroll 30 more students in the program

“We did a proposal for the board of education, because we get a lot of referrals from the school system already,” Johnson said.

Johnson said it’s a small price to pay to make sure teens don’t leave the school system and end up in the legal system.

“It’s about $38,000 a year for someone to be incarcerated, for our program it’s about $5,000 a year so we deal with them now or later,” Johnson said.

Johnson said last year the O.O.P.S. Foundation helped 30 students graduate, 27 of them went on to either college or are employed.

There’s no word whether the school board will grant Johnson’s request.

OOPS! Foundation is a youth development nonprofit that fosters self-confidence, leadership skills, and positive decision making in underserved youth at risk youth. OOPS! Foundation was created to help highly at- risk adolescents break cycles of negative risk-taking, violence and addiction. Through our initiative, which relies heavily on community relations and best practices through the use of evidence based programs adolescents learn strategies to carve out a new way of life – helping them break cycles of negative high-risk behavior; heal shame, anger and grief; and emerge with a new sense of self and a positive future orientation. The goal of the program is to identify youth who may be susceptible to a turbulent transition to adulthood and offer a positive support system with linkage to services which provide a wraparound support to avoid the common pitfalls that can derail their lives. OOPS! Foundation’s program offers: resources and training for professionals who work with at-risk youth and their families, Job readiness skills, employment counseling, work experience and training, case management and other supportive services, cutting edge mentoring program, educational and Behavioral and Mental Health Support, and an Online High School Diploma. 

Larry Johnson (Magic johnson brother) 

Larry Johnson sharing at our Community Drive at Hoggard High School 

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