Last week, 18 young fathers in DC graduated from Smart’s Professional Development & Enrichment Program, which is a core component of The Leadership, Empowerment and Advocacy Program (L.E.A.P.). This program builds upon the strengths of the young fathers in the Woodland Terrace community, who are bright, brilliant young men with infinite potential. L.E.A.P. helps to lay the foundation is assisting these young fathers in realizing their fullest potential. Over the past 14 weeks, these gifted young leaders participated in classes and workshops every day, 5 days per week, with 15 of our 18 graduates achieving perfect attendance. The graduates have earned certifications in Green Cleaning, Blood Borne Pathogens Handling, OSHA 10, CPR & First Aid, and more. They enrolled voluntarily, in an effort to change their lives, even as they continue to face disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, unemployment and trauma. Many have been involved in the criminal justice system, often initially as juveniles, and have until recently been caught in a continuous cycle of recidivism. L.E.A.P. has not only afforded the young graduates vital life and professional skills, but has most importantly broadened their horizons, ignited their intellectual curiosity, and inspired a new sense of responsibility for creating change. Graduation from the L.E.A.P. program is not the end for these young men, but instead the beginning.
A special thank you to our supporters in DC who spoke at the Professional Development and Enrichment Program Graduation last week, including: Mr. Jefferi Lee of WHUT/PBS-TV, Mr. Marvin Gay of Safer, Stronger DC, Mr. Larry Williams of the DC Housing Authority, Councilman Trayon White, and Mr. Paul Thomas, our Professional Development Director. The event was a full house, with the room filled to capacity! The energy was high as each graduate accepted their award and made speeches touching on what they have learned during the program, what makes each of them a leader and their goals for the future.
Congratulations to these amazing graduates!