Mentoring Minds That Matter
Since November 2020, Legacy of Hope has partnered with West Oak Lane Charter School to create a student leadership program that teaches middle school students skills in entrepreneurship, accounting, and communication, among other essential leadership skills. Eighth grader, Noah Hadaway, and seventh grader, Ajah Brown, are two students currently enrolled in the program. For the past two months, they’ve been working on a project that will bring assistance to a teacher at West Oak Lane who has been affected by cancer. As they help this teacher with grocery delivery and home repairs, the students will apply the skills in financial accounting, communication, and leadership that they’ve learned throughout their time in the mentorship program. Brown says of their work so far, “We've been trying to help the family of someone who has cancer. We’re getting repairs on their house, working with balances to figure out how to save money, and writing letters to people in the community to help us. We’ve also made shirts so that we can raise money to fund all of this.”
The students in the program are just as passionate and driven as they are hard working. Brown and Hadaway both agreed that the most rewarding part of the program is the experience and the skills they have gained through it. “I think the experience is the best part. I’ve never done anything like this before, it’s fun to know that you can help somebody. It helps with learning teamwork skills. You learn a lot about money and negotiating -- overall the experience is very helpful,” explained Ajah. Noah added on, mentioning “My favorite thing about the program is the marketing and communication skills [I’ve gained]. I had poor communication skills before this, and I feel like I’ve gotten way better at communicating with others.” They both highlighted the impact the program has had in preparing them with skills to work effectively in professional environments and in leadership positions, paving the way for future opportunities they might find themselves in. Brown mentioned that she would like to be an oncologist when she grows up, stating that she always knew that she wanted to be some kind of doctor, while Noah would like to be a stock trader, taking a particular interest in the business decisions and planning aspects of the program.
The students of West Oak Lane in this mentorship program put these skills to practice as they network and connect with different partners in their surrounding community. Collaborating with them are various members of the Philadelphia community, most notably the Philadelphia Police Department and the local Shoprite. Noah and Ajah explained that with their monetary budgets, there were important decisions that had to be made regarding spending. When faced with the choice of hiring Shoprite workers to deliver groceries to their teacher in need or to coordinate a free drop-off by the Philadelphia Police Department, the students said that saving money by negotiating a free dropoff was the obvious solution. The students are also working on their negotiation skills by writing business letters to local businesses. Just this week, Noah, Ajah, and the rest of the students were able to waive $1700 worth of fees for their teacher’s house repairs by sending letters to their school's CEO and director of development, asking them to offer free advertisement of Price Contracting’s business in the school newsletter in exchange for waiving labor costs on home repairs. When it comes to making decisions and negotiations like these, Noah and Ajah explained that it really is a group collaboration, that they brainstorm and make decisions as a group. Noah explained the dynamic when talking about their work with the police department by saying, “We set up Zoom meetings and we discuss how we can contact the police department, write our business letters, and also how to present ourselves, because [presentation] is a main part of the project.”
Just like most other organizations, Legacy of Hope’s mentorship program has had to adapt to a largely virtual environment in the past year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Noah and Ajah said that while this new way of communicating has posed some challenges, the group has been able to overcome and adapt to the online platforms. Ajah, Noah, and all the students involved in Legacy of Hope’s mentorship program will continue to transform lives for the better in the coming months and years. The hope is that this program will provide these students with the skills and lessons they need to grow into the leaders that strengthen the communities in which they live. Legacy of Hope helps them accomplish this by providing them with the real world experiences they need to utilize these skills by connecting them with projects that aid members of their community affected by cancer. You can help contribute to the ongoing success of this program too. If you’d like to make a contribution to their efforts, consider buying a t-shirt from the students of the mentorship program or donating money directly to their cause. For more information on donations, visit Legacy of Hope’s online store to purchase a shirt or donate directly to this program here.