Over the years, we’ve heard from many of our delegates that their time in Maryland Leadership Workshops (MLW) was life-changing and helped them build strengths and skills they still apply to work and life today. To make sure as many deserving young people as possible can experience the benefits of our program, we rely on the help of community partners to sponsor our fees for families who might not otherwise be able to afford them. First Generation College Bound (FGCB) and Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT) were two partners we were proud to work with in 2018.

FGCB is an organization that connects low- to moderate-income families with resources to help pay for college. Students work with FGCB to learn college and career-readiness skills to prepare for college and qualify for the Guaranteed Access grant, which provides college financial assistance to eligible high school seniors.

“I had previously worked with MLW and I knew that they were a perfect fit for what I was trying to instill within my students,” said Sherrie Downs, Program Coordinator at FGCB. “The leadership skills that they teach are so necessary for students to be persistent and actually work through their challenges and barriers. I knew that I wanted to incorporate MLW into the newest program at FGCB.”

FGCB sent 20 ninth-grade students to MLW’s Senior High Workshops program, funded by its grant-supported Great Minds Great Futures Academy. At first, they were nervous to spend seven days away from home, but by the end of the week none of them were ready to leave.

“Every student we sent wished it could have lasted longer,” said Sherrie. “I was ecstatic about their reactions and that they were able to gain this experience. A lot of what MLW does is centered around the individual: self-awareness, diversity, just being aware of who you are, what you stand for, and how you can affect other people. I want my students to exude enough confidence to make changes, take the lead on situations, and help people that might have challenges in their circle or their community. Overall, I want them to become outstanding individuals and then pay it forward.”

The delegates’ experience in MLW was so positive that Sherrie plans on continuing the partnership for as long as the Great Minds Great Futures Academy is in operation.

Nona Carroll, Chief Strategy Officer for MBRT, feels the same way. Comprised of employers and their employees who are invested in the future of education, MBRT advocates for improvements in education and works with the Maryland Department of Education and local superintendents to support education issues that drive high student achievement, with the goal of ensuring a competitive future workforce.

Nona leads MBRT’s Next Generation Scholars program in five rural districts within Maryland that have a higher percentage of students receiving free and reduced meals. After learning about MLW, she and her team decided to send a student from each district to a weeklong MLW program.

“I’m always looking for opportunities for our students that could really go a long way in preparing them for life after high school,” said Nona. “MLW helps students develop their leadership skills, which are so important as they transition on to college or the workplace.”

To prepare its more than 2,400 Next Generation Scholars to be college- and career-ready, MBRT stations one coordinator in each of the five districts to work directly with students and their families as well as with school administration and counselors. Each coordinator selected a student to attend the weeklong MLW program, with the tuition paid by the Next Generation Scholars program.

“We were looking for students who were engaged in our programming, really making the effort to take advantage of the different opportunities that MBRT made available,” said Nona. “We wanted to send students who were going to be active participants in the workshops and actually apply some of what they learned when they returned to school.”

Syncere Turner, a tenth-grade student at North Caroline High School, was chosen from the Caroline County district to attend Senior High Workshops.

“MLW was an amazing experience,” said Syncere. “It helped me become the person I am today. The counselors put me at ease by learning about my interests and made me feel comfortable when I didn’t know anyone. I learned lessons and skills that will be useful for the future, but also had fun and made new friends. I am so thankful for this opportunity!”

MBRT plans to extend the partnership with MLW in the future and is working to get students more involved in the efforts of the organization.

“With this partnership, I hope that these students are able to engage others,” said Nona. “I want them to influence their peers to take advantage of all of the opportunities that are presented to them, become leaders in their school communities, and look at new ways that they can continue to enrich their experiences not only in high school but also going forward. All these skills they’re learning are going to be essential as they finish high school, go to college, or enter the workforce, and MLW teaches these skills in a relatable and stimulating way.”

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to FGCB and MBRT for making this invaluable experience possible for these delegates! If your organization is interested in partnering with MLW to sponsor delegates’ tuitions, please contact Anita Anderson at anita@MLW.org.