Who we are About Our Teens Brandon Sampson Read My Story Brandon Sampson As a black male from Philadelphia and from the projects, nobody expects you to go further in life. You are expected to be a highschool dropout who will most likely end up using drugs, get locked up, or dead. Level Up made my odds so much better. Level Up taught me how to focus on the better things in life, taught me how to be a man, taught me how to take action and fight for what I want in life. Ultimately, Level Up even pushed me to go to college. My grades quickly progressed from F’s and D’s to A’s and B’s. I even made the Honor roll. After graduating from West Philadelphia High School, I got into Morgan State University where I am currently pursuing a degree in Business and Management. Level Up has changed me for the better and it's only going to keep going up from here. Level up has also changed a lot of our youth by showing them that school is very important. Level Up helps the youth with homework during their after school tutoring program. Most importantly, Level Up provides a safe and fun place with great meals where the youth are encouraged to strive for better and bigger things in life. Today, I am glad to say that I, Brandon Sampson, am a Level Up alumni. Selethia(Level Up Mom) Read My Story Selethia From the moment Pastor Aaron found out what was going on with me and my children, he made sure we found a safe place to live, we were homless and me and my four chirldren were staying in a really bad shelter and through Level Up he got us housing. Over the years, I kept asking my son where he was and why he kept coming home late on Thursdays. He replied "Mom I was at the church building". I said to him "Bakir, you were not at the church building". Turns out the entire time he was really going to the church building where Level Up is! My son is an athlete and is in AP and honnors classes, with the help of Level Up mentoring and tutoring. Level Up is the best thing for our project kids. They have no outlet and are running around the streets. I have seen kids change all because of Level Up. I have seen them go back to school instead of hanging out in the Westpark lobby. I am very thankful for Level Up. I love to see our smart young adults head to church building together and involved in activities that build them up. I am tired of the violence. I want to see so much more for our community. These kids don’t deserve to lose their parents, siblings and friends. Let's continue to help them grow because they are our future! Driipykidd Read My Story driipykidd My name is Dominique aka Driipykidd, Drip, DK, or just Dom . I am 19 years old and from South Philadelphia. When I first heard of Level Up, I thought it was just a party event that happens once a month just like Fresh Empire, but it is so much more than that. Level Up is not just a place, but a safe place to keep youth off the streets. It is filled with arcade games, video games, and more than enough room for people who just need a place to relax, dance, get away from home, stay off the streets, and make a family. I joined Level Up on July 12th, 2019. I came in with my favorite person Deja, only knowing two people there. Deja and I participated in the dance battle during the event and came out in second place. After seeing how much fun I had, I wanted to go back and couldn’t wait for the next party. But then I found out from Deja that it was not only a monthly event but that the space was also open for us to come on a weekly basis. After that I was there every Thursday and Sunday. Then I made friends, friends who became family. Pastor Aaron became my godfather Pastor Aaron and Antioch felt like another home. Pastor Aaron took us to a school in Maple Shade, New Jersey. We performed there and afterwards we went to New York City for the day just to have fun. On April 30th, 2020, my brother was murdered. He was set up, shot and murdered in front of his house on our block. It was the first time I had seen a dead body. After I got off the phone with my best friends, I called my godfather Pastor Aaron and we stayed on the phone for the majority of the night and the next day unpacking what had just happened. When I came back to the church afterwards, everyone comforted me with love. Level Up really is a big family that accepts anyone. I am glad that I decided to go and I'm thankful that my godfather Pastor Aaron took me in, not only as another member to Level Up, but also as family. I will eternally be thankful. Testimonials - Community Leaders “Pastor Aaron has been instrumental in disarming the ongoing violence in our community. He has shown us how to neutralize the violence by providing transformative events for the youth and their parents to participate in. He has mentored the older teens and younger adults by discovering and expanding their interests, showing them that guns are never the answer.” Ms. Andrea Foster President of Westpark Resident Council(West Parrk Housing Projects) “Pastor Aaron Campbell's compassionate mentoring and rehabilitation has taught the most destitute of our cities youth to socialize with one another, peacefully resolve gang conflicts, and create a youth-led movement that has saved entire neighborhoods.This pastor feeds them, cooks for them, and even has them spend time in his home, rearing them to be productive members of our city. Pastor Campbell is the most prolific ministers in Philadelphia.” Jannie L. Blackwell Vice Chair, Democratic County Executive Committee(Former Member of The Philadelphia City Council for 28 years) Meet The Leadership Team Pastor Aaron Campbell Executive Director Aaron Campbell, founder and executive director of Urban Dream Chasers (Level Up) and lead pastor of Antioch Christian Fellowship, has devoted over two decades to mentoring Philadelphia's at-risk youth. This University of Pennsylvania alumnus bridges gaps between cultures as a proud African-American and Native-American, making significant contributions to native reservations nationwide. Recognized for his efforts, he's presented at the United Nations, amplifying Indigenous issues on a global stage. As a Philadelphia Police Department chaplain, Campbell fosters critical dialogues between officers and the youth of high-risk neighborhoods, facilitating understanding and healing. He's comforted victims at the epicenters of national tragedies, his work drawing attention on both national television and radio. His powerful memoir, 'Eyes That Seen Plenty: A Memoir on Race, Class, Culture, and Redemption,' endorsed by Dr. Cornel West, has enlightened many readers and features in university curriculums, including his alma mater's. You can support his efforts by purchasing his memoir, available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, and audiobook here. Pastor Sherman Adams Program Coordinator Sherman Adams, a dedicated assistant pastor at Antioch and systems coordinator for Level Up, ensures seamless operation of our Safe Haven. With a 30-year career in the retail and fashion industry, including managerial roles at Macy’s and Lord & Taylor, his expertise allows him to effectively manage resources, food, and transportation needs for Level Up. Andrew Blassingame Safe Haven Co-Lead Andrew Blassingame, co-lead of our Safe Haven space, has devoted his career to mentoring and empowering Philadelphia’s youth. His experience spans mental health support within the school district, college and career counseling, and youth development. Currently the Executive Director for Rebel Ventures, he furthers career development among young people in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania. Andrew holds an MS in Organizational Development and Leadership from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and a BS in Philosophy from West Chester University. Nohémie Sanon Roland Safe Haven Co-Lead Nohémie Sanon Roland, our Safe Haven co-lead, brings her strategic acumen from her corporate career to manage all aspects of the Safe Haven space. Responsible for budget planning, food preparation, and program metric tracking, she leverages her experience as a Corporate Strategy Manager and her insights from her role in the Strategic Business Development division of Aramark. Nohémie is a proud alumna of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with an MBA, and Syracuse University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Jenay M. Smith Tutoring & Enrichment Co-Lead Jenay M. Smith, co-lead of Level Up's Tutoring & Enrichment program, infuses her expertise as a Life Skills Development Trainer into our program. In charge of volunteer and participant coordination, curriculum development, and assessment, her contribution ensures our participants' academic and personal growth. She holds a Masters in Social Services from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. Dr. Joshua Williams Tutoring & Enrichment Co-Lead Dr. Joshua Williams, co-lead of Level Up’s Academic and Enrichment program, leverages his rich academic background to design a personalized curriculum for each participant and manage our team of volunteer instructors. His role is pivotal in accomplishing Level Up's academic goals for our young adults. Currently an Instrumentation Specialist at Drexel University, he previously served as an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. FAQ Are donations to Level Up tax-deductible under 501(c)3? Yes, Level Up is a program of the fully qualified 501(c)3 organization Urban Dream Chasers, Inc. Donations are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed under US law. What is Level Up? Level Up is an interventional mentoring program that exists to rescue and raise up a generation of young leaders and world changers amid the gun violence crisis and unprecedented homicide count in Philadelphia. Level Up was launched in 2019 based on 20+ years of Pastor Aaron Campbell and Antioch Christian Fellowship’s outreach to the West Philadelphia community. What kind of positive changes do you see in the youth who regularly participate in Level Up? Our mentorship model, which includes courtroom advocacy, forming relationships with parole officers, and peer-to-peer support, is built on love, commitment, and sacrifice - causing many young people who are comfortable dealing with pain and letdowns to finally start seeing something different and wonderful about themselves. What is the vision for Level Up, going forward? The vision for Level Up has always been to intervene in, and change, the trajectory of the lives of young people residing in Philadelphia’s toughest neighborhoods. Our current programs and events are all designed to support that vision. Ultimately, our dream is to establish a charter school that will serve the youth of West Philadelphia using the same approaches and guiding philosophy as our current programs. That is, obviously, a project that will require significant support from donors. Want to partner with us to make this dream a reality and impact the lives of precious young people? Click on the Donate button above to find out more! Antioch Christian Fellowship The Church Building Where Level Up Takes Place Antioch Christian Fellowship is a non-denominational church in West Philadelphia that has been addressing the violence in the city for nearly two decades. What began twenty-one years ago as a gathering of three people in Pastor Campbell’s West Philadelphia living room, has blossomed into a strong, multicultural, vibrant congregation. Today, Antioch serves as a community pillar, and hosts Level Up, a safe haven for marginalized youth from the most high-risk sections of the city. Level Up serves youth across our city -- from Kensington and Allegheny (“K&A”) to North Philadelphia, to West Philadelphia. We are wholly committed to bringing transformation to our city: one heart at a time; one need at a time; big picture all the time.