Investing in the community.
This is a term a number of people have heard of or read about previously. Community investment can come in multiple ways, shapes, and forms, ranging from business development, along with expanding the reach of access to resources for multiple demographic groups.
Among the aforementioned groups is the investment in young people and their families. Earlier on Sunday, April 27th, students and parents connected with the LEAD Foundation's programs are reminded of this need and charge at the nonprofit organization's program banquet. Taking place at A Taste of Paradise Restaurant and Event Hall, all in attendance are reminder of their charge in their holistic development, along with a friendly challenge to "rise to the occasion" when it comes to their individual and collective development, along with formulating and exceeding their goals and dreams.
Students from the organization's male mentoring program (The REEL Project) and co-ed leadership development program (The Alpha Leadership Program for Higher Achievement) are among the students recognized for their involvement and service, including a student-initiated service project where collections of school supplies and clothing is provided for one of the area boys' shelters (for high-school aged young men) in Gwinnett County. Likewise, a sincere and strong message is delivered by keynote speaker and board member Latabia Woodward. Woodward, who also serves as president of the Gwinnett County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., challenges students and parents alike to not only dream, but not to be derailed or deterred from pursuing their goals, especially if they are grounded in their professional, community, and personal development.
Another highlight of the program is recognition of the foundation's scholarship recipients for the 2014-15 academic year. Through the Katherine Snorton Scholarship Program, graduating high school seniors from area high schools including Stone Mountain High School (Nicholas Musey and Shayla Spann), Shiloh High School (Briana Stith), Miller Grove High School (Sydnee Eastmond), Norcross High School (Camille Streeter and Keanu Lowo), Decatur High School (Nicholas Bentley), Mill Creek High School (Chouncey Collins), and Landmark Christian School (Caitlyn Davis) are among this year's graduating high school seniors who are among this year's scholarship recipients. Likewise, students who are currently attending a 4-year, 2-year, trade, or technical school are also among those awarded financial support for their academic endeavors; Zhake Radford (GA State), Diaget Miller (GA State), Justine Avoudikpon (The University of Georgia), and Gerald Davis (Howard University) are also among this year's recipients.
Overall, just under $11,000 in scholarship awards are provided.
"We started our scholarship program in 2008; thanks to the support of our donors, we are blessed and anticipating exceeding the $100,000 mark in funding opportunities provided to some outstanding students and young people", notes scholarship chairperson Andrew Snorton.
Parents and students are provided opportunities to express their appreciation for the 6-member board, along with a number of the volunteers who help make the program possible. A number of the students have been with the program since their time in middle school; as a by-product of their investment in themselves and their participation, all of the program's graduating seniors are either scheduled to attend a 4-year or 2-year institution of higher learning, including one who is narrowing down his military options.
"Developing tomorrow's leaders today isn't just a catch-phrase. We realize that by giving back and providing professional and personal growth opportunities, we can make a positive difference in the lives of young people. We can always get better and in doing so, we can be a more effective resource for our community", adds executive director Michael Woodward, Sr.
Through their male-mentoring, co-ed leadership development programming, summer camps, college tours, and scholarship program, the LEAD Foundation is able to be a growing and positive resource in its immediate and surrounding community. With continuing efforts to expand their reach and identify additional ways in making an impact, it can continue to be a sound and steady influence in the lives of young people, parents, and all in the metro-Atlanta community.
Clearly, leaders can lead if they dare to do so.