CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Young Black Leaders Alliance (YBLA) has been in Charlotte for more than 13 years. It has helped many African American young males and females accomplish their goals and become leaders.
This year YBLA is changing things up. It has hired - for the first time - an Executive Director for the organization and a new Board Chair has been named as well. The two new leaders have already gotten to work and say more needs to be done.
“We take a kid and we train that kid,” YBLA Board Chair Anthony Trotman said. “That kid goes back to school - that kid goes back to their community and that kid is really able to influence folks around them.”
Trotman is also Mecklenburg County Assistant County Manager. He says working with YBLA is one of the most exciting opportunities he has experienced in his career. One of his goals as Board Chair is to expand the currect group of about 450 students to about 600. He wants the story of YBLA participants to be told.
“The reality of what we mainly talk about,” Trotman said. “Are the data that says that kids - African American kids - are not excelling. They are at the bottom of all the academic lists. This reality says something totally different - that our community is producing leaders and we want to take those leaders - we want to multiply those leaders.”
Trotman says 100% of the participants graduate from high school. All go to college and about 97% of them graduate. All YBLA students have to have at least a 3.0 GPA to get in and also have to complete other tasks to get participate.
“Our community needs some focused attention,” Trotman said. “And some focus leadership on the black community.”
The decision to hire an executive director is to take the organization to the next level. Founders John and Tammy Martin will still be involved but can now concentrate on other aspects of YBLA. Todd Pipkin is the new Executive Director. He has a background in education. He says he brings passion, experience, and excitement to the table. He is ready to duplicate the program nationwide.
“We want to take a look at how do we expand outside of the North Carolina area,” YBLA Executive Director Todd Pipkin said. “How do we go into a Tennessee. How do we go into a Virginia. How do we go into a Pittsburgh. How do we go in a Phoenix.”
Pipkin believes funding should also go to programs that help students who are already on the road to success. There have been programs after programs created and paid for to help students attending challenged schools - better known as Title One schools - succeed.
“The data has shown all the money we have put into Title One funds for schools,” Pipkin said. “It really hasn’t demonstrated any return on investment, but if you look at what we’ve done with some of our young people going to M.I.T., Duke, Wall Street, Healthcare. We have young people who are contributing.”
Pipkin believes money should be provided to benefit all students in different phases of their lives. He says as the YBLA Executive Director he will advocate for more partnerships so the program can grow.
“This is hard work to make sure that we do what is right to move the young people forward,” Pipkin said. “And that is the biggest challenge.”
YBLA students have traveled abroad for mission trips and to study other cultures. The new Executive Director thinks there is a return on investment.
“I think they are going to be the next change agents,” Pipkin said. “Next presidents - next CEO’s. Our young people here are motivated to get it done.”
For more information about YBLA click here.