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Initiative receives $50,000 Oak Foundation grant for youth leadership development


July 27, 2015 – The North Carolina Community Development Initiative has received a $50,000 grant from Oak Foundation to support its youth leadership program.

Oak Foundation comprises a group of philanthropic organizations that commit resources to address issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

Recently completing its eighth year, the Initiative’s youth program places two dozen rising high school seniors from across North Carolina in six-week summer internships with high-performing nonprofits in their communities and provides intensive leadership training, individual goal setting support and opportunities to network with business and community leaders.

The Initiative developed its youth leadership program to fill a gap in high-quality leadership training and internship opportunities available for non-traditional students, particularly low-income students, rural students and students of color.

The program matches each student with a well-vetted nonprofit organization in their home county, where they serve full-time internships working on projects that advance the organization’s mission and benefit from job shadowing and mentorship.

Students convene three times during the six weeks for team building and leadership training seminars on such topics as communications, servant leadership principles, financial literacy and conflict resolution. Field trips to businesses, government and other organizations and workplaces offer opportunities to meet peers from diverse backgrounds and talk with leaders in business, government and the nonprofit sector.

Since 2008, the Initiative has served 206 rising high school seniors. The majority have been young women (55 percent) and minority (80 percent). All participants have completed high school and 96 percent have attended college (based on 88 percent who responded to surveys).

“Time and again, we have seen that with proper encouragement, mentorship and access to opportunities, these students’ potential to do great things – both in their academic careers and their communities – increases dramatically,” said Meena Ahuja, senior program officer for the Initiative.

The N.C. Community Development Initiative and its lending arm, Initiative Capital, lead North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit

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