Successful conclusion to the Initiative’s 9th annual Youth Leadership Program

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On Friday, the Initiative concluded its 9th annual summer Youth Leadership Program with speeches from notable leaders across the state and words of reflection from this year’s amazing group of young leaders.

“I am truly inspired by the hard work, energy, and intelligence of this group of young people,” said President and CEO of the Initiative, Tara Kenchen. “Because of this summer, I am confident that this state and the nation are in good hands.”

Anita Brown Graham lauded the participants who worked at the Institute of Emerging Issues this summer, describing them as “two remarkably talented young men” and thanking them for their leadership. She concluded, “Hundreds of your peers will be more prepared for the future because of your work this summer.”

PNC Vice President of Community Development Banking Lori Jones Gibbs served as this year’s Key Note speaker, and she too spoke highly of the interns. Recognizing their potential for greatness, she instructed, “Never self-exclude, you can achieve anything you set your sights on.”

The Initiative is very grateful for all of the organizations, foundations, and individuals who made these last five weeks such a booming success; we could not have accomplished any of this without your dedication and assistance. We also want to thank the interns for taking the time out of their summers to devote themselves to this program. We are extremely proud of all of them and we cannot wait to see the many ways in which they go out and change the world. We want to give everyone the chance to get to know these inspiring high school students as well as we do, so each Thursday for the next several months, we will release a recorded or written testimony from a past intern, describing his or her unique experience with the program. We are confident that they will impress you just as they have awed us.


About the Youth Leadership Program 

The Initiative’s Youth Leadership Program is a summer long leadership training and professional development program for high school students from low-income backgrounds. This year’s class included 23 students, mostly rising high school juniors and seniors from across the state. In addition, to participating in a professional development, leadership and training program based in the Triangle, the participants serve as interns with a variety of community-based development organizations for 5 weeks over the course of this summer. Through this combination of formal training and experiential education, the emerging leaders participating in the Initiative’s Youth Leadership Program develop an important array of skills, begin to build professional networks that they can leverage throughout their careers, and have the chance to make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Many thanks to our sponsors

BB&T Oak Foundation Z Smith Reynolds Foundation Wells Fargo PNC Suntrust Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust Local First Bank Fifth Third Bank First Tennessee Bank