Kids of Honor®
Empowering youth to graduate from high school for 15 years, Kids of Honor® used a three-tiered approach to help students succeed.
First, Kids of Honor® partnered with existing youth-based groups in the community. We celebrated students when they made positive decisions and exhibited good behavior.
Students who were successful within our partner sites joined our second tier—the Connection Club. The Connection Club provided students and their families with fun, educational, and community service activities, thus helping students maintain relationships with family members, peers, and the community.
When students reached high school, they become part of our third tier—YEAH, or Youth Excelling in Academics with Honor. YEAH students focused on college exploration, job readiness, and personal growth.
Each high school dropout costs communities over $260,000 over their lifetime. For $250 per year, we kept students engaged in school. Our model was collaborative, successful, and effective. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.
Youth Leadership Academy
We often hear that good deeds reap rewards for those who give. This became a reality for the youth of Salisbury when the entire community reached out to help during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In 2005, America’s Promise Alliance designated Salisbury as one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People.” As a result of an essay about Salisbury’s efforts to help with the hurricanes, Salisbury’s Promise Alliance received a $20,000 award from America’s Promise Alliance.
A group of stakeholders convened to decide how to reinvest this money in our youth. Strategies would be tied to the Five Promises, central to America’s Promise Alliance. One of the five core concepts of successful community change is youth involvement in planning and decision-making. The stakeholders recognized that these opportunities were limited in our community, where nearly half of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
The planning group unanimously agreed to use the funds to create a Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) – to be created by and for young people. The Academy is focused on developing leadership from within our community, by reaching out to engage non-traditional leaders among our youth—those with untapped leadership potential and limited opportunities—and provide them an opportunity to develop skills and be more successful.
Any young person from grades 8-11 can apply to participate in YLA at no cost. The program reaches out to local secondary schools and youth organizations. But word of mouth is the most effective recruitment because it lends credibility to the fact that through YLA, youth actually lead as well as learn, and then extend that leadership back into the community. Students have produced an impressive record of achievements.
Two students won positions in the Student Government Association their freshmen year. Another became senior class president. Other students have served on boards of organizations and attended a Search Institute Conference.
Graduates have used their experience in YLA to reach beyond the community. One graduate was the Student Representative to the Maryland State Board of Education. He was also a 2010 Olympic torchbearer for Coca-Cola because he helped create YLA. Another graduate was accepted into the CIVICUS (Service Leadership) program at University of Maryland-College Park. Several graduates received scholarships to attend colleges such as Davidson, Morgan State University, Princeton, and Shaw University. Others received the President’s Service Award. To reinforce and sustain the positive results of YLA, one participant created a Youth Leadership Award of Excellence as a Girl Scout Gold Award project.
The Youth Leadership Academy increases the youth voice in the community. It serves as a staging point for youth to move a youth agenda forward, strengthen leadership skills, and keep Salisbury one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People”—an award Salisbury received for five consecutive years.
Graduates report that they’ve learned to understand and work with others of different backgrounds, who they might otherwise avoid. Many begin the first day with people they may not know or like. They enjoy lunch with community leaders, which offers them access and a voice that they did not have before. They participate in team building activities. Students learn about giving back as they create and publicly present their “Foot Print.”
The Youth Leadership Academy is about empowerment born of having youth design and implement the activities. It encourages youth to be active citizens. If you'd like to learn more, please contact me.
40 Developmental Asset Trainer
Research done by the Search Institute drives the youth development work I do in the community. Kids of Honor and the Youth Leadership Academy embrace the 40 Developmental Assets and Sparks. We build Assets and ignite Sparks in the youth of our Community. I speak and train others in the benefits and application of Developmental Assets. Here’s video called "Be A Dream Catcher." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-j49C9ytWY&index=25&list=PL9427314869EFBD1A
I hope you share my belief that we need to support and empower youth in our communities!
For more information about The Search Institute, Developmental Assets, and Sparks, please click below:
Other YOUth Activities
- Chesapeake Bay Girl Scout Council
- Leader for 10 years
- Service Team Member
- Boy Scout Troop Merrit badge Counsellor
- Personal Finance
- Family Life