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An integrated approach to preparing youth for the global workforce as healthy citizens

"The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to." Marian Wright Edelman


The words of the great children's advocate, Marian Wright Edelman, resonate with us today more than ever. The Links, Incorporated is committed to leading the way as champions of change, ensuring that youth are academically successful and engaged in healthy lifestyles. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Research shows that active, healthy children achieve greater success in school, have greater self-esteem, and become healthy adults who lead productive lives.

The Links, Incorporated created its first program facet, Services to Youth, to equip black youth to use their intellect and spirit of achievement to become successful and productive citizens. Today, The Links, Incorporated continues to implement aligned, integrated and transformational programs that are responsive to the academic, health, cultural, social awareness, career development, and mentoring needs of youth.

The Services to Youth facet uses an integrated approach to prepare young people to succeed as healthy citizens in the global workforce and to promote healthy lifestyles within families and communities.

The Services to Youth facet continues to implement three national initiatives, two signature programs and two national programs in support of our mission to enrich and enhance the lives of black youth.

The primary goals of this facet are to:

  • Close the achievement gap from pre-K through college, with the intent of preparing our youth for the global workforce as healthy citizens

  • Promote the integration of a health and wellness component focused on youth, families and communities in our Services to Youth programs

  • Develop training modules for local pre-K through college mentoring programs, to ascertain a high level of support for youth in our communities

  • Expand and support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and promote the integration of the arts (STEM to STEAM)

  • Promote and support historically black colleges and universities for ensured sustainability

National Mentoring Initiative

We seek to intervene and serve children who are growing up without the guidance and support of a caring, responsible adult. Research shows that mentoring decreases the likelihood that young people will engage in harmful behaviors, while improving the chances that they will attend school regularly, improve academically, increase self-esteem and engage in healthier lifestyles.

Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring adults who offer guidance, motivation, support and encouragement aimed at developing the skill set necessary for a successful and productive lifestyle.

Mentoring is strategically integrated into all Services to Youth programs and initiatives. Chapter members mentor, recruit, register, and support mentors in their communities. The National Mentoring Initiative also supports the Young Achievers, Project L.E.A.D. High Expectations and Links to Success: Children Achieving Excellence programs.

Overall goals are to:

  • Establish successful mentoring relationships (one-on-one, group mentoring, etc.) with youth, pre-K - 16

  • Identify and recruit more local black mentors

  • Stress competence and character building as core values in a mentoring relationship

  • Encourage mentoring relationships to focus on closing the academic achievement gap, workforce readiness and healthy lifestyles

  • Establish partnerships with local mentoring agencies to provide mentor training

Young Achievers

9th - 12th Grade ~ "Developing the Whole Child"

Young Achievers addresses issues and challenges facing high school aged black youth. Through a series of workshops and interactive programs, the Young Achievers program supports a successful completion of middle school, a seamless transition to high school, successful entry to college and into chosen careers.

The primary goals of this program are to:

  • Implement mentoring programs for youth, geared to either males or females

  • Promote health and wellness with youth, families and communities

  • Close the high school academic achievement gap

  • Implement science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related career awareness programs

  • Introduce college readiness programs

  • Promote historically black colleges and universities as viable options

  • Introduce financial literacy programs

  • Award college scholarships

Project L.E.A.D. - High Expectations

4th - 8th Grade ~ "Links Educate, Accommodate and Develop with High Expectations"

The title L.E.A.D. reflects The Links, Incorporated's effort to close the academic achievement gap of middle school students, while responding to their social-emotional needs, encouraging health and wellness, introducing STEM related education and career options, and improving their financial literacy. Instilling "High Expectations" in the youth participating in the program is a priority. Project L.E.A.D. participants are empowered to believe that they are capable of making significant contributions to society, and that The Links, Incorporated members and society in general also has high expectations of them.

The program goals are to:

  • Emphasize closing the middle school academic achievement gap

  • Promote health and wellness with youth, families and communities

  • Support the National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative

  • Involve and empower youth to become leaders in violence prevention

  • Introduce and promote financial literacy at an early age

  • Prepare and promote college readiness

  • Develop effective mentoring relationships between children and positive adult role models

Links to Success: Children Achieving Excellence Signature Program

Pre-K-3rd Grade ~ "An Early Literacy Program"

This signature program is based on the belief that reading is the foundation enabling all children to succeed and that effective teaching of reading must begin at the earliest age with effective literacy practices. The 30 Million Word Gap cites that during the early years of cognitive development, many impoverished children generally hear 30 million fewer words by age three than their privileged peers. With effective intervention, the literacy gap can be closed, and children can then move forward and master other subjects and grade level skills.

The goal of Links to Success: Children Achieving Excellence is to mentor and assist in closing the achievement gap for pre-K-3rd grade minority students with an emphasis on literacy and healthy lifestyles.

Additional goals of Links to Success are to:

  • Partner with national organizations to promote early childhood literacy

  • Promote health and wellness with youth, families and communities

  • Emphasize closing the elementary achievement gap

  • Teach critical thinking skills

  • Introduce STEM education and career readiness programs

  • Expand education and career awareness

National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative

The National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative was crafted out of The Links, Incorporated's dedication to ensuring quality STEM education at all grade levels so that youth may be exposed to and prepared to study for STEM related careers.

Through the National STEM Initiative, local chapters work to:

  • Establish sustainable partnerships with select STEM focused organizations and/or corporations that have national reach, demonstrated results and progressive educational programs

  • Implement STEM educational programming pre-K - 16, including toolkit applications to support The Arts (STEAM) and Health and Human Services facets programming

  • Facilitate mentoring opportunities with STEM professionals and academia with a goal of reducing the attrition rate of college students who pursue and graduate in STEM disciplines

  • Prepare and encourage students to attend community college and/or a 4-year college for STEM related educational disciplines

  • Enhance STEM related career opportunities for minority students through scholarships and internships

By preparing and encouraging students to attend colleges and universities with STEM related programs, The Links, Incorporated equips students of color with the skills to compete and excel in a global workforce that increasingly relies on individuals with STEM related proficiencies. The Links, Incorporated aims to identify and align with select STEM related organizations to prepare youth for STEM related careers.

National HBCU Initiative

The goal of the National HBCU Initiative is to implement and support efforts that align with President Obama's plan to increase the retention and graduation rates of students attending college by the year 2020. While emphasizing the relevance of HBCUs' past, present and future, this initiative will create synergy and complement program initiatives already underway.


The Links, Incorporated supports HBCUs and encourages chapters to:

  • Partner with other national organizations

  • Host HBCU college fairs and other events

  • Mentor and recruit students to attend and graduated from HBCUs

  • Promote health and wellness with students

  • Promote and encourage a connection with an HBCU and its STEM programs

  • Identify opportunities to support faculty research and/or professional development

  • Contribute to the sustainability of HBCU institutions

Education Linkage

Education Linkage supports President Barack Obama's education initiative aimed at creating partnerships and alliances to educate and prepare youth for the 21st century workforce. The Links, Incorporated has forged a national partnership with Achieving the Dream, Incorporated to launch the "Equation for Excellence Program" with community colleges and HBCUs. Education Linkage will also lead The Links, Incorporated's efforts to create a sustainable relationship with other national organizations aligned with the Achieving the Dream partnership.

Achieving the Dream, Incorporated

Achieving the Dream, Incorporated, is a multi-year national partnership designed to ensure the success of students who attend community colleges. ATD is particularly concerned with student groups that traditionally have faced significant barriers to success, i.e., students of color and those from low-income families. More than 130 community colleges and four-year institutions participate in ATD programs across the United States.

The ATD community colleges and The Links, Incorporated will bring focus and passion to student success by implementing the Equation for Excellence Program.

The Equation for Excellence collaboration focuses on the personal and realistic accessibility of higher education. The program aims to increase significantly students' attitudinal and intellectual college readiness at middle and high school grade levels, thus eventually lessening the need for developmental education at the college level.

Equation for Excellence Program goals are to:

  • Improve consistency and quality of volunteer/mentoring interventions

  • Improve student learning outcomes and matriculation into higher education institutions

  • Improve student learning outcomes and graduation rates from ATD community colleges among minority and low-income students

  • Promote health and wellness with students

  • Increase student and family financial literacy at the secondary schools which provide a significant number of graduates to ATD community colleges, "feeder schools", and ATD community colleges

  • Replicate best practices from "feeder schools" and Equation for Excellence community college volunteer interventions at HBCUs close to ATD community colleges

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