Ex-homeless man hopes his Obama letter will help pay tuition

theGRIO REPORT - One formerly homeless man is selling his hand-written letter from President Obama to help pay for tuition...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

President Barack Obama once wrote a letter to a young man filled with words of advice encouraging him to finish his education.

That young man, Jesse Grainger, is now selling the same letter for $9,500 to help pay the remainder of his tuition.

Grainger, who was once homeless, originally wrote Obama a letter in 2001 sharing his personal story and asking for advice. He wrote:

Dear Mr President:

I find it unbelievable that there has been a “war” on poverty for the last 50 years and the cycle has still not been broken. As children, we are told that the only way to succeed and live the American Dream that so many long for is to finish High School and continue on to College.

However, there are those less fortunate that cannot afford Higher Education. Finding the money to fund one’s education is not as easy as others make it seem. As a child, I had big dreams of going to college and doing great things with my life. You see, I came from a small town where most people were poor, especially my mother and me. My mom adopted me when I was one day old. She raised me to believe that education was the most important thing that I could ever get. My adopted mom died when I was thirteen years old.

Grainger went on to write about his tales of growing up in various households and environments that exposed him to drugs, alcohol and abuse at an early age.

“The day I turned seventeen, I walked out of the house I was currently residing in with a book bag, a few outfits, and my mom’s bible to set out on a journey that has forever changed my life,” he wrote.

His letter detailed how a family in South Carolina took him in and provided care.

He eventually got a job, his GED, attended junior college and ultimately was admitted to Winthrop University to earn a degree in social work. Tuition costs forced him to take out thousands of dollars in loans, and he still faces difficulty in making payments.

“My ultimate goal is to open a community outreach program to help homeless and underprivileged youth, as I once was, to get back on track and provide support to further their education and become productive members of society,” he wrote. “It is my belief that education is a powerful tool and is the best tool to succeed in life.”

Obama read Grainger’s powerful words and wrote his own letter in response in 2011.

“Thanks for your letter and your inspirational story. The best advice I can give you right now is finish your education,” the president wrote. “I’m proud of you. Stay determined!”

Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works.