Rising high school seniors from across North Carolina wrapped up eight-week internships and celebrated their contributions to community organizations Aug. 10 in closing activities for the N.C. Community Development Initiative’s 2012 Summer Youth Leadership Program.
One student, a youth leader from Lexington, spent her summer developing her own version of a youth leadership program.
“My goal was to provide a safe and supportive environment that encouraged students to explore their academic and career interests while developing leadership skills that will be essential for their success,” Wendy Alvarado said. “I will proudly say that my goals were accomplished.”
Alvarado was one of 26 students and 18 host organizations participating in the Initiative’s 2012 summer program. The youth program is part of the Initiative’s long-term strategy to develop state leaders who understand the unique needs of low-income communities and can help strengthen their economies.
The 2012 class spent the summer attending leadership seminars and completing projects focused on community economic development in their local communities.
Alvarado said she designed and implemented her own leadership program to give back to youth in her community. Working through her host site, Lexington Housing Community Development Corp., she produced the 2012 Davidson County Summer Youth Community Development Academy.
The two-day academy, Aug. 6-7, was a pilot program modeled after an adult certification offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School at of Government and the Initiative’s Summer Youth Leadership Program. It served 11 students, ranging from sophomores to seniors in high school.
Alvarado developed the applications, wrote the notification letters and contacted potential speakers to share information with the students. Students and instructors covered such topics as career education, affordable housing, the role of nonprofit organizations, personal finance and the significance of achieving a higher education.
“I really enjoyed every part of the program,” Alvarado said. “This summer, I felt accomplished because making a summer program has always been one of my dreams. I would love to give other students the same opportunity that the Initiative summer program gave me.”
Lexington Housing CDC plans to continue the program and work with youth organizations, including Communities in Schools, to secure funding to expand the length of the academy. Alvarado plans to assist with the preparations for the program next summer before going to college.
For more information on Lexington Housing CDC’s Davidson County Summer Youth Community Development Academy, contact Antionette Kerr, executive director, at (336) 236-1675 or visit www.lexingtoncdc.com.
For more information on the Initiative’s Summer Youth Leadership Program, contact Kimberly Askew, program associate, at (919) 835-6072 or visit www.ncinitiative.org/leadership-development/youth.
The N.C. Community Development Initiative leads North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.ncinitiative.org.