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L.E.A.D. Helps Atlanta Public School Students Through Athletics, Academics, Civic Mindedness, and Commerce

C.J. Stewart, program leader for February, presented Ms. Kelli Stewart, co-founder with C.J. and chief operating officer for L.E.A.D. – Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct, a program identifying and recruiting boys beginning in Atlanta Public School’s middle schools and extending through high school. L.E.A.D. supports academic success while in school and helps students prepare for post-secondary education upon graduation from high school. L.E.A.D. uses baseball as a medium for at-risk boys’ participation. L.E.A.D. began in 2007 with 18 families and this year has 350 students from grades 6-12 engaged. L.E.A.D. supports boys in 8 Atlanta Public Schools middle schools and at-risk males from all APS high schools are eligible to tryout for the high school program, The Ambassadors. Kelli stressed L.E.A.D.’s support for the School System as vital for the future positive achievement of boys of L.E.A.D. The organization began partnering with APS in 2009 and at that time became the only middle school baseball option for students not attending Sutton and Inman. Kelli stressed that her boys are in a pretty severe state of personal danger, which she sees as owing to three major realities: crime, poverty and racism. Crime is a daily present condition, and even a temptation kids see all around them most of the time. Poverty and its associated ills, among them crime, damages kids’ ability to see the long term - the material needs of NOW blocking dreams of the future. Vision too often seems like an unaffordable luxury. Racism conveys a perception and a lurking suspicion that they are not as good as other kids who are not of color. Racism means greatly limited or no external supports growing up. L.E.A.D. cannot insulate the kids from crime and overcome the stresses of material need. But L.E.A.D. does give opportunity, support and constantly pushes students’ need to dream and act for a big future. Built into L.E.A.D.’s program are four pillars: Athletics, Academics, Civic Mindedness, and Commerce. These pillars are undergirded by (1) Agency and Advocacy: Overcoming embarrassment, defining for themselves their own personal value, acting on how to be a leader. They use a textbook entitled Habitudes, (2) Discipline: striving to be better and learning how to hold oneself and others accountable, and (3) Relationships: practicing how to build and maintain quality interactions with others over the long-term. 100% of L.E.A.D. students graduate with 93% enrolling in post-secondary education programs and 90% earning scholarship support – all within L.E.A.D.’s annual cost of $4000 per student.

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
February 28, 2020 2:00pm

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