Joshua Smith, a 9-year-old boy from Detroit, Mich., has made national headlines over his ambitious efforts to help his hometown rise out of its ever-sinking debt.
He started off with a goal of selling $1000 worth of popcorn and lemonade and delivering a check of the said amount to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s office.
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After several weeks of vending, not only has Smith exceeded his $1000 goal (he’s raised more the $3,000), the young man has earned the respect and praise of supporters nationwide, the Detroit Free Press reports.
On Friday, several members of the University of Michigan’s basketball team showed up at Joshua’s door with gifts.
“I was so impressed right after I read the story,” said U-M junior Jordan Morgan, 20, of Livonia. “I just felt like, if more people had a mind-set like Joshua, this world would be a better place.”
The Rosa Parks Foundation in Detroit has promised him a $2,000 scholarship towards his college education, as long as he completes high school with a 2.5 grade point average.
A foundation spokesperson cited Joshua’s entrepreneurial spirit and civic-mindedness at such a tender age for the award offer, according to the Free Press:
“Special consideration for a scholarship was given to Joshua because, at such a young age, he is an enterprising civic-minded young man who shares Mrs. Parks’ spirit of service and commitment to building a brighter future in his community,” said foundation president Delora Hall Tyler.
Ironically, Joshua’s mother, Rhonda Smith, was awarded the same scholarship when she graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1987.
As NewsOne previously reported, Joshua observed that several parks near his home were poorly maintained and the grass had grown to more than five-feet-tall. When his parents explained the how the city’s poor financial state made maintaining parks a daunting task, it was then that Joshua came up with the idea of selling food to help fill Detroit’s coffers.
(Several tractors have since mowed two parks near Joshua’s home)
With an investment of $100 and logistical support from his parents, the young man set up shop in from of his home and began selling food and beverages to passer-byes and neighbors.
It was an huge success that exceeded anyone’s expectations.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing called Joshua and thanked him for his efforts from his downtown office. But, instead of accepting the money for the city, the mayor suggested that Joshua use the funds he raised to further his post secondary education. Using the money in that way, the mayor said, would enable him to sharpen his business acumen and help the city’s economy as a local entrepreneur when he gets older.
One of the U of M basketball players who visited Joshua on Friday, Trey Burke, told the Free Press that he was amazed that such a young child could be so mature and care so much about his city.
“I definitely feel like we have influence on a lot of kids,” Burke said.
“Seeing a 9-year-old try to make a difference in the city and clean up the parks and make the city look like a better place, it says a lot about the kid and the maturity he has at an early age.”