Terence Lester, author of four books with IVP, has signed a contract for a fifth to release in Winter 2025 that is tentatively titled From Dropout to Doctorate.

Recently named by Atlanta magazine as one of the top five hundred leaders in the city, Lester is the founder of Love Beyond Walls, a not-for-profit organization focused on poverty awareness and community mobilization. His four books with IVP include I See YouWhen We StandAll God’s Children, and Zion Learns to See, coauthored with his daughter, Zion. He has also coproduced a biographical documentary based on his book The U-Turn Project: Answering the Call.

Born into a two-parent household that split because of domestic violence, Lester, his mother, and his sister moved from place to place while trying to find stability. Internalizing the trauma, Lester turned to gangs, became a juvenile delinquent, and eventually dropped out of high school. However, a brief encounter with a man experiencing homelessness during Lester’s time on the streets changed his perspective and motivated him to complete his education. After graduating high school as a fifth-year senior, Lester went on to defy the odds by earning five degrees, including a PhD with a concentration in public policy.

He writes, “The reality is that not everyone begins competing in the game of life from the same starting line. In fact, many have been forced to stand outside the stadium and must work hard just to gain admission into it. This book reveals how one man did so—and how you can too.”

In this forthcoming book Lester examines the profound impact of poverty and unjust policies and systems on Black communities, highlighting how poverty disrupts the lives of Black families, leading to homelessness and perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline. Drawing from personal encounters and scholarly research, Lester sheds light on the complexities surrounding the scarcity of PhDs in urban areas. This has become even more relevant after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action—a policy that personally affected Lester’s family—on June 29, 2023. As a public scholar and nonprofit leader, Lester brings a unique perspective to the discussion, advocating for equitable access to advanced education and addressing the systemic barriers that limit opportunities for Black people.

Lester’s campaigns on behalf of the poor, including #LoveSinksIn (which provides handwashing stations for the poor), have been featured in USA TodayBlack Enterprise, Essence, and Reader’s Digest. They have been viewed by millions of people globally on the Today ShowGood Morning America, CBS News, NBCUpworthy, and “The Bright Side” with Katie Couric. Lester was named by Coca-Cola as one of their History Shakers.

Lester has also received numerous awards for his community activism, including the Empire Board of Realtists Distinguished Service Award (2017), the SCLC Social Advocacy Award (2016), Atlanta Voice’s 50 Under 50 honor (2016), the True to Atlanta Award presented by the Atlanta Hawks (2016), and the Fulton County Schools Service Award (2015). 

The acquisitions editor for From Dropout to Doctorate is Al Hsu, associate editorial director, trade, for IVP. Lester was represented by Trinity McFadden of The Bindery Agency, and this title includes world rights.