Few things are more difficult than asking for a raise, but Felton Foushee recently sought higher pay from his Greensboro, NC employer, bolstered by skills he had gained as a mentor in CCL’s leadership and mentoring program for young people.

“I took a lot of the things I learned and used it in my approach, my demeanor, my tone,” says Foushee, 34, a printer and part-time student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), who was granted an increase in his salary. “The exercises and programs that have been developed are polished and in-depth. It is great.”

Foushee volunteered to be a mentor for the YMCA Black and Latino Achievers Program last fall, wanting to help at-risk youth the same way other adults had mentored him as a teenager. But, he says, he is benefiting far more than he expected — and as much as the youth — from CCL’s expertise in leadership research and training.

CCL mentor Cristina Jacome (left) assists YMCA Achiever Alexis Rudd with a pipeline exercise during the program.CCL’s work with the YMCA program has been enhanced by a $5 million grant awarded in 2009 as part of theAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which expands the program through 2013. Bringing together mentors and students, ages 13 to 18, for several hours once a month on Saturdays, classes stress themes such as self-awareness, managing conflict and communication.

The mentors, both adults and college students from local universities, participate in an eight-hour training session and attend hour-long prep meetings prior to each monthly session. This school year, 97 mentors are working with 188 youth in the leadership program, which has grown significantly since it began in 2008.

“They have set in place a program that doesn’t forget about anyone,” says Cristina Jacome, 31, a staff member for U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), who began serving as a mentor in 2009. “It is an opportunity for mentors and achievers to gain new levels of leadership and find our own potential.”

During a recent session, says Jacome, who moved from Ecuador in 1999 to attend college on a swimming scholarship, the youth were asked, “What is your spark?” “We help by asking questions to provoke thought, by redirecting the conversations,” Jacome says, adding that many of the students figured out their passions and talked about ways to turn them into reality. “The students have so much potential.”

The program, according to a CCL survey last year, is making a difference. Eighty-four percent of the mentors agreed or strongly agreed that their effectiveness in the community had been enhanced by participating in the program; nearly 70 percent indicated that the program had improved their effectiveness with their families. Similarly, nearly 83 percent of students responded that their school attendance improved, while 80 percent said their grades improved. Nearly 88 percent said they are better at achieving their goals.

“I feel as if I’m going through a journey along with the students,” says Jasmine Miller, 19, a UNCG sophomore who has been a mentor since the fall of 2010. “When I first signed up, I didn’t know the impact this program would have on my life. This is something that is so positive for the mentors and the students. I think it’s a program that should be in every city.”

CCL Toolkit Accessible Globally

The Early Leadership Toolkit makes CCL’s groundbreaking leadership training for youth now more accessible and affordable to organizations around the world than ever before.

The toolkit, designed as part of CCL’s Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative, includes 21 lesson plans in areas such as decision-making, time management and teamwork, with instructions for facilitators, learning guides for youth and a list of resources.

“We wanted to make something easy to use and really flexible so that people can design a program for their students,” said CCL’s Sarah Miller. Using the toolkit, leaders and organizations can easily customize their training for their target groups. To date, leaders from more than 50 organizations have attended Train the Trainer programs. Held to date at CCL headquarters in Greensboro, NC, as well as at sites in Kenya, London and India, the training provides firsthand experience on the kit’s multiple uses and seemingly limitless flexibility. Participating organizations include the American Councils for International Education, Cornell University and Muddy Sneakers, a North Carolina science camp for elementary students.

A Train the Trainer session is scheduled for April 26-28, 2011, in Palo Alto, CA. Other sessions are tentatively planned later this year in Ethiopia, Brussels and Greensboro. For additional information about the Toolkit and upcoming sessions, visit www.leadbeyond.org, or contact Sarah Miller and Joan Bello at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL©).

To learn more about CCL’s work with youth or to become a part of this bold solution, visit here.

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