C2E is dedicated to providing optimal health through a primary prevention strategy, that broadens, provides a safe and neutral, inclusive arena with exciting activities designed to educate on risk avoidance measures that will develop strong character for all youth, and increase overall quality of life by assisting families in sustaining life skills.
Impact and growth is accomplished through mentoring, peer-to-peer support and community involvement. Our core components include the following:
- Building strength for life through learning life skills
- Developing strong relationships through mentoring
- Giving back through community service
- Equipping pregnant teens and single parents
- Understanding and doing the "right" thing
- Learning interpersonal skills
- Developing an entrepreneurial spirit
Back in 1991, Moton says she never planned to start a nonprofit to serve her community. Yet the Twin Groves native, who began her school career in segregated Arkansas schools, had big dreams for the young people in her community.
“I had no desire to do Excel. I was looking at the little girls in my neighborhood making bad choices, some of the choices I had made, and I said someone had to step in.”
And step in she did. With a small army of women alongside her, she developed a mentoring program for those young girls. Eventually a teacher at Conway Junior High School heard about the small mentorship program and asked Moton to begin speaking to the school’s female students.
“So we began one-day workshops with guest speakers. The kids started responding, and the principal said, ‘I think the boys need to hear this.’ Then other schools started to hear. We did this for seven years with no funding, just the local community, volunteers and speakers that would give of their time.”
At that seven-year mark, a twist of fate linked Excel to Dr. James Dobson’s ministry, Focus on the Family. After reading an article written by a grateful Excel parent, Focus on the Family staff members contacted Moton and encouraged her to seek government funding available to nonprofits like hers. Mike Huckabee, a great supporter of character training for young people, just happened to be serving as Arkansas governor at the time.
“Excel started this way, and we’re still here 27 years later,” she beams.
A lot has happened in those 27 years. Though Excel began in Conway Public Schools, the program has grown exponentially to include Morrilton, Greenbrier, Mayflower, Vilonia, Hot Springs and a few schools in Little Rock. Excel’s motto is “Impacting lives, making a difference, one life at a time,” and today that goal impacts many lives across Central Arkansas.
In memory of Dandrick Moton
"My true passion is to coach kids in basketball. I want to help young men to be successful, to have character, and to have integrity in the world, not just on the court.” -Dandrick
Read more about Dandrick's legacy...
One of Choosing to Excel’s signature endeavors is the “A-Team” or “Leadership Team”. This is a group of high school students who pledge to live above the standards set by their peers, make healthy choices, and encourage others to do so. Dandrick Moton (son of C2E’s founder and Director, Thelma Moton) took this undertaking with zeal. After graduating from the program and pursuing higher education, Dandrick returned to Choosing to Excel and went from behind a desk to being one of Excel’s most inspirational contributors. In fact the programs that he helped spearhead remain in place at Choosing to Excel today!
Of all of Dandrick Moton’s many contributions in a life lived for others, one of his most powerful was serving as a voice to and for youth in the area of mentoring and healthy choices education. Dandrick was only 25 when he was named to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS under George W. Bush. Having served previously as the Director of Community/Youth Relations for Choosing to Excel, Dandrick was the only member appointed from Arkansas.
Dandrick’s appointment was not without justification. He was on the board of the African American Abstinence Youth Conference and was the keynote speaker for the AAAYC at Hampton University and Morehouse University. Patricia Funderburk-Ware, the chair of the Presidential Advisory Council and formerly the Executive Director of the AAAYC, knew that Dandrick would be a sound council member. “She wanted me to be the voice of the youth,” Dandrick said.
Being the voice of the youth was a role that Dandrick had learned to be comfortable with. “I have a heart for young people,” Dandrick said. He believed that educating young people about the dangers of HIV and AIDS and informing them that they can avoid it completely through abstinence was his main role.
In 1997, Dandrick graduated from UCA with a marketing degree. “It has helped me to spread the idea to young people that they can make good and healthy choices in their lives,” he said. However, his position at Choosing to Excel was one based in public relations, which inspired Dandrick to return to UCA in the fall of 2000 to complete a degree in public relations. “I thought that since I am doing public relations for a living, I should get a background and degree in it,” Dandrick said.
Dandrick’s motivations for returning to college were not based solely upon his need for a public relations degree. “Being single and young, I want to get as much education as I can, while I can,” Dandrick said. “If I want to change directions or make a different decision, I want the sky to be the limit.” While at UCA, Dandrick was also a member of the Public Relations Club.
Coaching was a passion in Dandrick’s life. He was the head athletic director for junior high and high school boys at Conway Christian Academy. “My true passion is to coach kids in basketball,” Dandrick said. This was not just to coach the game; it was to teach the life lessons that go along with learning the game. “I want to help young men to be successful, to have character, and to have integrity in the world, not just on the court,” Dandrick said. Dandrick saw a future for himself in coaching young athletes. “I see myself, in some capacity, around sports, especially basketball,” Dandrick said. “This includes helping young men reach their full potential in life.”
Dandrick’s ethics and morals came from the influence of his parents. His mother is the founder of Choosing to Excel, and his father is a self-employed businessman. “I have never seen my father miss a day of work, and my mother taught me to do things right no matter what happens,” Dandrick said. His parents’ influence taught Dandrick the values of hard work and integrity and some very important life lessons. Dandrick took these lessons to heart as he shared with others the positive and loving background that he had been given.
Long-time friend and fellow Choosing to Excel participant Reuel J. Shepherd had this to say about Dandrick’s legacy:
“I had the fortune and privilege to make my A-Team journey with my best friend Dandrick “D-Magic” Moton. Dandrick was a man of large stature physically and metaphorically. D-Magic would grab everyone’s attention wherever he went. His size had a part in that, but the biggest factor was his spirit. Dandrick was a very confident young man who had a genuine heart for people. He saw the benefit of making wise choices in his life, and he wanted other young people to experience these benefits for themselves. Therefore, much of his early adult life was devoted to spreading the message of making healthy choices to young adults all over this nation. The sincerity in the message he delivered touched all who heard it (young and old). He became one of the leading speakers on abstinence in the nation. I am positive that a large number of those who heard him speak were directly impacted by the power of his message. I am grateful that we were able to make this journey together.”