Urban League offers Innovative Youth Leadership Program


— On Saturday, April 5, 2014, the Greater Baltimore Urban League (GBUL) held the closing ceremony of their new flagship initiative, the Saturday Leadership Program (SLP) at Coppin State University.

SLP participants, families, partners, sponsors, GBUL volunteers and Coppin State University representatives attended the graduation ceremony commemorating their participation in nine leadership development workshops that introduced them to leadership skills and the power of higher education. Coppin State University President Mortimer Neufville provided welcoming remarks, MTA Director Ron Smith pledged his continued support, and BBBS of the Greater Chesapeake Executive Director Selwyn Ray gave a motivational speech. Thanks to SLP’s citywide reach, students from 49 neighborhoods and 22 schools from every corner of Baltimore can come together to discover new pathways to success.

“This program’s success speaks to the conviction of our volunteers and supporters across the city,” said J. Howard Henderson, GBUL President and CEO. “Investing in Baltimore’s future African American leaders is a cause that transcends the public and private spheres. We work with eight universities, dozens of nonprofits and businesses, MTA, and the city— where else in Baltimore can you find a collaboration that crosses sectors like that?”

The program recruits students through nonprofit organizations and Baltimore City Public Schools, classroom space and college tours are provided by colleges and universities, local businesses provide meals, and MTA provides bus passes so SLP students can make it to every session.

Students are so enthusiastic about SLP that GBUL is offering a summer program to help SLP students turn their attitudes into action: from May to August, a select group of SLP students will design and lead public service projects to improve their neighborhoods, with GBUL providing administrative support. Henderson is proud of what SLP’s students have accomplished. “It is inspiring to see so many youth recognize their potential and act upon it,” he said. “Their newfound skills and perspectives give them a unique edge that will serve them well on their way to college and careers.” GBUL expects to see an attendance increase next year due to this year’s graduates signing up for next year’s SLP workshops, where they will co-lead leadership development sessions and serve as examples to their peers.