EAU CLAIRE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – A mentoring program in Eau Claire is hoping to take some high schoolers on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Power of Perception is a nonprofit in Eau Claire geared toward helping and mentoring African American and biracial students.

Thanks to a 150-thousand-dollar grant from the Pablo foundation, it’s taking 20 high school students on a two-week trip to South Africa.

“One of the goals when I first started Power of Perception was, I wanted to take kids abroad. I wanted them to go international just because I feel like when you come from low-income first generation, you don’t really have that opportunity at home because you kind of can’t afford it.”

Dennis Beale is the group’s founder. He hopes the experience will be life-changing.

“One of the things that helped us choose South Africa is just going back to the motherland. We can get really stuck in our ways in the US, you know, and I think especially with our kids we have to take a step back and appreciate what we have.”

“For some students, this is their first chance to travel outside of the country.”

“I’m very excited. South Africa. I have never been out of the country. He said we’re going international. So, I’m very excited to do that.”

A chance to go abroad is not the only reason students are a part of the program. Quinney says he’s built community through the group’s weekly meetings.

“It means a lot to me is like, it’s like my second home. My second family. I feel like once I get to those Wednesday sessions, I feel like those are people I could be around to communicate with and be successful in my environment. I just want to say I appreciate Dennis and the program for having enough for me and my life so far, and I’m really excited to see more things that come to us.”

The students applied for the trip through an essay contest. Winners will be announced later this week. Power of Perception always welcomes donations of any size from the community. The group uses them to give students essential items and care packages.