Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Black leaders throughout history, but it’s also an opportunity to uplift the vision and work of Black leaders who are making a difference around us right now.
I recently joined the NC Child staff, and one thing I’m most excited about in my role is connecting with organizations around the state who are doing great work with our children and their families.
Here are five organizations around the state focused on building the leadership of Black children and youth, from early childhood into young adulthood.
Freedom School Partners
The Freedom School movement grew out of the work of local Black civil rights leaders, including Ella Baker, in the 1960s. In partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund, Freedom Schools thrive today in more than 90 cities — including Charlotte. Freedom School Partners in Charlotte enriches the learning and growth of children who attend high-quality programs each summer at 12 different sites around the city. In 2022, over 600 students experienced Freedom School. Watch a great video about Freedom School Partners’ 2022 program.
Launched in 2015, Leadership LINKS, Inc. was founded by an intergenerational group of six African American United States Naval Academy graduates. Leadership LINKS develops the leadership of girls and young women in Guilford County and around the Southeast. The organization does this through mentorship, summer camps, college campus visits, and more. Mentors within the Leadership LINKS Network play a critical role by executing the programming and supporting the organization’s goal to raise up the next generation of leaders. Watch this great video to learn more about their work of Mentoring Across Generations.
NC Child’s partners at SaySo (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out) are a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are, or have been, in North Carolina’s out-of-home care system. This includes all types of substitute care, including foster care, group homes, and mental health placements. The youth in SaySo are powerful advocates for improving foster care in our state.
Read a wonderful recent story about SaySo and their director, Carmelita Coleman, in Carolina Across 100.
Black Child Development Institute – Charlotte
As one of the only national organizations dedicated exclusively to the success and well-being of Black children, the National Black Child Development Institute and its affiliates are a powerful and effective voice on issues related to the education, care, and health of Black children and their families. BCDI Charlotte is a leader in North Carolina’s early childhood community, including serving on the leadership team of CandL (Care and Learning). Learn more about BCDI’s work to fight learning loss among young readers in Charlotte in this article from WFAE.
YMCA of High Point – Carl Chavis Memorial Branch
Recognizing the shortage of child care in their community, the YMCA Chavis branch is in the midst of fully renovating and upgrading the YMCA facility and child care center, which will be named for Executive Director Carlvena Foster. Learn more about the inspiring work Ms. Foster has done to support youth in High Point in this great article from the High Point Enterprise.
Join us in celebrating Black History Month by connecting with and supporting organizations like these who are building the next generation of Black leaders in North Carolina.