Metanoia’s Youth Leadership Academy (MYLA) invests in the assets of the youth in our community by offering a curriculum-based after-school enrichment program to students that show leadership potential. MYLA provides students in grades 1-12 with over 700 hours of annual programming. The academy offers a youth leadership pipeline by integrating curriculum across age groups. Developing leaders with hands-on experience in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) is a critical focus for MYLA. We work closely with community partners and local experts to offer training in subjects like computer coding, robotics, karate, photography, and entrepreneurship. “We’ve been working hard to build outside partnerships that will allow students to sharpen their skills and invest in their own interests,” says Stacy Brown, Director of Operations.
Exposure to in depth learning opportunities begin in elementary school. Curriculum-based opportunities walk scholars through classroom exposure, expert presentations from community partners, field trips, and hands-on projects that offer scholars the chance to produce tangible outcomes of what they have learned.
Our middle and high school scholars participate in an expanded curriculum offering experience-based entrepreneurial and financial skills learning through a partnership with Corpus Callosum. Middle school scholars learn the foundations of the business cycle. Each scholar learns to research, develop, market, and sell their own product or skilled service each year. Collaboration with community experts offer both mentorship and instruction that help scholars learn tools to manufacture and sell goods, or provide a skilled service, at local bazaars, family nights, community events, and our annual Jubilee celebrations.
High school scholars concentrate on skills training and honing their entrepreneurial knowledge through student-run businesses within our Youth Entrepreneurship Center. Hodari Screen Printing and Isoke Fine Jewelry provide scholars the opportunity to create strategic plans for each school year, and engage in each level of business from product design, marketing and sales, to forecasting, production and service.
The key to our success includes the inclusion of parents as valued members of the team in our program. For scholars to participate in our Youth Leadership Academy, parents commit to being active citizens in our community. We require families to earn credits each month which provide the critical connection between scholar, staff, and community to ensure success. On average, our parents exceed program expectations by contributing above the required points semester after semester.
Why our Youth Leadership Pipeline is different
Metanoia’s youth leadership programming is by no means the largest in the area. However, we believe it is one of the most effective, holistic and efficient initiative for building our community from the inside rather than depending on outside agencies to provide large-scale services. Here’s why:
Working with leaders
For years, even non-profits with good intentions operated on a “needs-based” child care model for distressed communities. In trying to help those most struggling, it discouraged those from performing at their best. In many ways, it encouraged high-performers to dial down their efforts in order to take part in services. High-functioning communities have the ability to identify and invest in their present and future leaders. This is at the forefront of our thinking as we seek to create a generation of community leadership that is capable of transforming the community from within. We want all students in our community to have the same opportunity to quality after-school and summer care. However, with limited resources, we believe working with high-functioning leaders is the most efficient and effective way for our community to heal itself.
Rather than offering opportunities just during the school year or just during the summer, we offer a continuum of leadership-building opportunities all year long. During the school year, students develop in the Youth Leadership Academy. During the summer, these same students are provided day-long leadership and academic opportunities at Freedom School.
Getting parents involved
Because we understand parents have to be involved in students’ lives to make them great leaders, Metanoia requires parents to participate in our community. Parental involvement keeps students in our program, helps to establish relationships between home and the Academy, and keeps parents informed about what scholars are doing. Parents that are engaged, informed, and part of the team motivate scholars to reach new heights.
Families are required to earn participation points to be a part of the Academy. Middle and High School scholars are able to participate in community activities, academy opportunities, and their school programs to help families earn points as well. On average, Metanoia Youth Leadership Academy parents exceed program expectations by contributing above the required points semester after semester!