Rise Academy is raising the voices of BIPOC nonprofit leaders through an equity-centered design.
Working to transform the lives of New York City’s youth, venture philanthropy organization Youth INC empowers the nonprofits that serve them by addressing their individual needs. The organization’s new racial equity program, Rise Academy, does this by supporting and advancing nonprofit leaders of color through a curriculum designed to elevate competencies in key areas and expand access to spaces formerly unavailable to emerging BIPOC leaders. “There is no lack of talent, skill or potential among BIPOC nonprofit leaders, but they face structural barriers to their success,” says Jeff Barlow, president of Canaccord Genuity, a major funder of the program. “At Canaccord Genuity, we believe that BIPOC nonprofit leaders deserve equitable opportunities to grow their careers, which is why we invested in this innovative program of our longstanding philanthropic partner Youth INC.”
Tracie Gilstrap, director, partner network engagement, Youth INC
Rise Academy strives to create a pipeline of BIPOC leaders in the youth development field that reflects the diverse young communities they serve. “Throughout the program, leaders are guided to clarify and sharpen the concept of who they are as leaders, enhance skills to lead their organizations effectively, and organize and lead community change initiatives, all within the context of a multicultural framework that examines race, power, and the lack of representation,” explains Tracie Gilstrap, director, partner network engagement, Youth INC, and driving force behind Rise Academy. The 15-month immersive program helps emerging leaders build confidence and skills in nonprofit management and organizational development through learning experiences such as executive coaching led by AIIR Consulting and a mentorship program. All participants will earn a comprehensive certificate in Organizational and Community Leadership from the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Adelphi University, who partnered with Youth INC to develop the program curriculum. “Board of directors, who are disproportionately white, have historically failed to recruit for diversity, which has led to increasingly white leadership amongst nonprofit executive directors,” says Rehana Farrell, executive director, Youth INC. “Youth INC is actively working to change this thanks to the generous support of our longstanding corporate partner Canaccord Genuity that made this program possible.”
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One participant from the program, Kyesha Lewis, has gained a deeper sense of confidence and drive from Rise Academy. “Kyesha, senior coordinator of development and communications at Read Ahead, one of Youth INC’s 75 nonprofit partners, has gained the confidence to advocate for herself and applied for a new position within her organization that more strongly aligns with her goals,” says Gilstrap. “Kyesha aspires to one day serve as the executive director and sought the new role to gain a more holistic understanding of leading a nonprofit organization. She now feels more fulfilled in her work and better positioned to achieve her long-term goals. This is just one of the many goals that Youth INC’s programs have in place for our emerging leaders.”
Since its inception in 1994, Youth INC has raised over $110 million and strengthened more than 190 grassroots organizations to bring all young people equitable access to reach their full potential. By providing nonprofits with the tools necessary to achieve long-lasting growth, Youth INC is empowering the next generation of New York City from its foundation.
Photography by: Photo courtesy of Youth INC