Walk for Youth Leadership

Thank you everyone for supporting Youth Leadership Academy in the Fox Trot!

A fundraising campaign for Youth Leadership Academy

Thank you for joining Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) in the

                      

Saturday May 27th, 2017

Elgin




What were YLA's goals for this event?

1. Recruit 100+ walkers for the Fox Trot.

We had 220 walkers for the Fox Trot!

Last year, we registered 25 people to walk with us.  This year, with 30 participating nonprofits, we substantially surpassed all of the other groups, having double the number of walkers of the nonprofit with the 2nd highest count of walkers.  The Fox Trot organizers have confirmed that we now hold the record for the BIGGEST group of walkers registered by any nonprofit in the history of the charity walk.

2. Raise $3000.

We raised over $5000!

Last year, we raised $250 in total through the Fox Trot.  This year, through this crowdfunding campaign and an award from the City of Elgin based on our incredible number of walkers, we have raised over $5000.  Because of your support, we have funding for at least two classroom trainers for the 2017-18 school year!




Who are YLA cadets?

They are 128 students from 7th to 12th grade living in the Elgin Community College District 509 (including U-46, D300, D301, and D303 Illinois school districts). 93% are students of color.  100% come from families living in poverty.

Many cadets have been told that going to college is not an achievable dream.  Some have been told that they do not belong in our country or, even worse, that they simply should not have been born.

Yet 100% of them live the YLA motto: “I AM on the path to success.  I AM college bound.” 

100% are being prepped for college and trained as leaders.  100% are making a difference today as our youngest leaders to stand up for the poor and disenfranchised in our community.



Cadets each year choose a social justice issue to explore and address through service learning projects.  Projects this year have included raising awareness of human trafficking in Illinois (left), opening dialogue about LGBTQIA issues in schools (middle), and taking civic action to address racial/ethnic discrimination in schools (right).




Why should I support YLA?

If you believe that the color of a child's skin should not be a barrier to being a community leader, join us.  If you believe that the contents of one's wallet should not close the door to college education, support us.  If you believe that all children deserve the chance to reach their full potential, walk with us.




How else can I support YLA?

Although the Fox Trot and this crowd funding campaign has ended, you can still support us!  You can:


1. Contact us if you are interested in supporting us as donors or sponsors.

Please contact our Executive Director, Dianha Ortega-Ehreth, via e-mail at dortega-ehreth@elgin.edu to find out the best way for you to support our program and learn about upcoming events to sponsor.


2. Contact us if you are interested in supporting YLA by joining our staff or our Board.

Please contact our Executive Director, Dianha Ortega-Ehreth, via e-mail at dortega-ehreth@elgin.edu if you would like to learn more about how you can join our team in bringing out the full potential of our amazing cadets and being our ambassadors in our community.




What impact does my support have on YLA?

Every dollar you donate helps a cadet take one more step towards becoming a college student, a community leader, and a "better person."


"YLA has been a place where I’ve made new friends and have learned so much. Not just about leadership skills but about who I am and how to become a better person.  With YLA I’ve been able to step out of my comfort zone and put my leadership training in action."  Luz, a 2015 YLA alum currently attending college.

Click on a donation button above to equip cadets like Luz with the training and support they need to reach their full potential. 


During their six years in the YLA program, cadets complete a minimum of 360 leadership training hours.  They exercise their leadership skills through service learning projects every year,  making a positive difference in Elgin and nearby communities.  YLA has a 95% retention rate of cadets who continue on from year to year.  An average of 75% of YLA graduates enroll in Elgin Community College after high school.  The remaining graduates enroll in other institutions such as University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Iowa, or Carthage College. 

Only through your generosity can YLA continue to exist and grow to prepare our young people for the future.  Show your support today, and be a YLA Hero!  #YLAHero



Thank you to our Sponsors for this Campaign!


Thank you!

June 6, 2017

Dear Friends of YLA,

The YLA is a relatively small organization, AND YET, thanks to you and your support, we raised over $5000 AND had over 200 people registered for the Walk for YLA at the Fox Trot on May 27th!

This is the influence of everyone in the YLA working together – cadets, parents, staff, board members, friends and friends of friends. It’s inspiring and powerful and I know there is more to come. THANK YOU SO MUCH for being a #YLAHERO! Your support means we have funding for at least two classroom trainers for next school year!

As the YLA continues to grow and take on new challenges, one thing is clear:

our mission of helping each young person reach his/her potential in order to gain access to a college education is strong. I hope we can continue to count on you to actively contribute to this mission.

Dianha Ortega-Ehreth

YLA Executive Director

P.S. If you did not get your #YLAHERO pin yet, please come to the YLA office at Elgin Community College – Building K, Room 109, Monday – Wednesday between 1 pm and 5pm (June office hours) to pick one up!

3rd Team Update - Walk is Tomorrow!

May 26, 2017

[If you received this campaign update via e-mail, please note that pictures that go with the update may not be visible in your e-mail.  Please click on "View Update" at the end of your e-mail to see the full update.]

Dear YLA Heroes,

Thank you so much for your support!  Tomorrow is the Fox Trot and the end of this fundraising campaign.

Campaign status

1) Amount raised so far: $2091

2) # of registered walkers in the Fox Trot: 160 (confirmed since May 22nd)

We have the highest number of walkers registered for the Fox Trot of the 30 nonprofits that are participating!

3) # of #YLAHero social media posts and shares: 46

Take action

It is not too late to spread the word about the campaign!  Use the #YLAHero hashtag when you talk about YLA or this campaign on social media.  Each post and each share creates a trail back to YLA and brings us much needed attention and support.

Why are we supporting YLA?


Anthony Bell is another example of why Youth Leadership Academy is special.  Anthony graduated from the Youth Leadership Academy in 2009.  He has served on the YLA Board since 2016 as the Alumni Representative.  He currently works for Fisher Nuts in Elgin while interning for a Christian radio station.  He is pursuing his dream to build a career in radio.

1. How has YLA impacted you?

YLA has impacted me in so many ways.  I started out at YLA as an introvert.  I did not want to talk with people.  Because of YLA.  I am no longer afraid to speak in crowds.  Actually, I am quite comfortable with it.  Because of YLA, I am no longer shy about talking to people one-on-one.  People around me find me so comfortable to talk with that they often come to me with their problems, and more often not, I can help them through it.  

I had a lot of opportunities in YLA to practice my public speaking skills.  My 10th Grade was all about being a “fire starter” -- how to open up a conversation and sustain it.  I learned to engage in small talk with others without having it feel like small talk.  We even had a group of comedians come to YLA to talk about engaging in conversations.  I was focused on getting good grades in high school, but that year was eye-opening, helped me a lot as an introvert, and opened me up to being able to communicate with others.   

In 11th Grade, we had a panel of people involved in politics.  We shared to them what was going on Dist U-46 -- why the school system was not working for us.  This was a great experience to practice my public speaking skills.

People often told me that I have a great radio voice.  Because of what I learned at YLA and what people told me, I majored in communications, with a focus on public speaking.  

Officer Gary Neal, one of my trainers at YLA, really impacted me.  He would tell me, “You have so much to say.  Just say it.  People will listen to you.  You are really intelligent.  Go after it with everything you got.”  I did.  I graduated in the top 25% of my class at Elgin High School.

I also want to mention that Officer Neal, Ms. Dianha, and Mr. Kevin also helped me a lot to get through college.  I was going through tough personal issues during my transition from Elgin Community College and Judson University.  They were super encouraging.  They helped me to focus on what it was that I needed to right then, which was to get through college. 

2. What does “success” for a cadet in YLA mean to you?

Lot of people equate success to income or status.  For me, success means that you are an overcomer.  For some of the YLA cadets, a lot of bad things have happened to them.  They were able to overcome it as YLA cadets.  Why can’t you do it now?  You can overcome it now.  You are here not only because of what you accomplished during the good times, but what you overcame during the bad times.  That’s what success means.  You have obstacles.  Great.  Overcoming them is what makes you into you.

3. Why is YLA important to the local community?  Why should the community support YLA?

YLA is important to cadets and their families not only because of the scholarships.  It helps cadets build their leadership skills.  Community service projects in which cadets apply their leadership skills help the community.  YLA takes people who are shy, introverted, and not too interested in talking to people, and it nurtures and molds them into leaders in their community.

YLA is trying to make you become a fully functioning member of society.  We take a lot of at-risk youth.  People who, without this program, may fall into gang-related activity and not be able go to college to get their education.  We take this demographic, and we show them another way outside of the pressures they face at school.  We show them different options from what they are seeing from their peers.  Suicide is a serious issue at schools.  Drugs and alcohol are very prevalent.  YLA takes people who may fall into these traps, and we show them how to become leaders.   

YLA is more or less a family.  Ms. Dianha and Mr. Kevin check on graduates like me to see how we are doing.  I am very thankful to them.

#YLAHero

The cadets of YLA are spreading the word about YLA and this campaign.  They are participating in a competition to see which grade level team can make the most social media posts using the #YLAHero hashtag.  The team that makes the most posts and get the most shares win free YLA water bottles for their team!


These two cadets show us that, even when competing against each other, YLA Heroes work together.  Both Team 7 and Team 11 get 5 bonus points!

Here is how it looks so far:

#Team7: 25 points + 5 bonus points

#Team8: 6 points

#Team9: 3 points

#Team11: 13 points + 5 bonus points

#Team10, #Team12: 0 points

Great job to the 7th Grade Team! Thank you for spreading the word for YLA, and we look forward to awarding you with YLA Water Bottles.


Thank you,

Sang, YLA Development Specialist

sangyladev@gmail.com


2nd Team Update

May 18, 2017

[If you received this campaign update via e-mail, please note that pictures that go with the update may not be visible in your e-mail.  Please click on "View Update" at the end of your e-mail to see the full update.]


Dear YLA Heroes,

Thank you so much for your support!  We are now 10 days away from the Fox Trot and the end of this fundraising campaign.

Campaign Status

1) Amount raised so far: $1385

2) # of registered walkers in the Fox Trot: 134 (confirmed since May 15th)

3) # of #YLAHero social media posts and shares: 39

Take Action

Please spread the word about this campaign with your friends and family.  Use the #YLAHero hashtag when you talk about YLA or this campaign on social media.  Each post and each share creates a trail back to YLA and brings us much needed attention and support.

Why are we supporting YLA?


Helen Perez is one of many examples of why Youth Leadership Academy is special.  She is a 2010 graduate of YLA and a former Alumni Representative on the YLA Board.  She currently works for YLA as the 12th Grade Assistant Trainer on her weekends.  Her regular job is to provide consulting for and managing the Chicago area accounts of TidBit Consulting.  Helen shares below her insights about her YLA experience and why YLA is so important for its cadets and the community.

1.  How was your experience with YLA as a cadet?  How did YLA impact you as a cadet?

YLA taught me important values like discipline.  Discipline is integrated into the YLA experience, as you are expected from 7th Grade to 12th Grade to be at YLA on Saturdays.  I had to wake up at 6 am on Saturday mornings to get to YLA.   The discipline of shaking a hand properly and presenting myself in a certain manner was instilled in me at an early age and came to be an expectation.  Sometimes the cadets complain about having to wake up on Saturday mornings for YLA or meeting the other expectations of cadets; I complained about it, too, as a cadet.  It puts them out of their comfort zones, but you have to get out of your comfort zones to do great things with your life.

YLA had a big impact on my self-image.  I always excelled at academics, but with my background and what I was carrying, having the positive environment that YLA provided during my high school years was critical for my self-esteem and growth.  I really looked forward to going to YLA on the weekend.  I enjoyed being surrounded by people like me who wanted more from life, and I had amazing mentors who encouraged me to pursue what I want from life.  

My aspiration to be like my mentors is one of the reasons I give back to YLA.  It would be selfish of me to keep everything I learned to myself.  Youth need mentorship, and being a mentor for them is something I can do to give back. 

2.  Why is YLA important to its cadets?

Some of the cadets come from really bad environments.  They feel like they don’t exist.  When kids come from broken families, they can feel like they are broken.  It has been very fulfilling for me to help these students put the pieces back together. 

I asked my 12th grade cadets why they are in the program.  They are not only in this program for the scholarship to Elgin Community College.  Some of them are going straight to 4-year universities.  They like the positive environment.   They like being around people who are encouraging.  Their schools don’t provide it.  Their clubs don’t provide it.  YLA provides cadets with a supportive environment that they can’t get anywhere else. 

Having to be committed to YLA for 6 years says a lot about the cadets who graduate.  It says a lot about their character.  They are disciplined.  They will accomplish great things in life.  They know what it takes to change the world.  They will be the change they want to see in the world.

3. How did YLA impact your college choices?

As a YLA graduate, I got my tuition for Elgin Community College and Judson University covered.  I only had to pay $3000 out of pocket.  I probably saved about $80,000 in getting a college education.

4. Why is YLA important to the local community?

YLA is important to the local community, because it represents the leadership that the community has.  A community will always need more leaders.  YLA breeds leaders.  We breed success.  We produce graduates like Danesa, who serves this community as an attorney, or Jazmin, who works for the Renz Addiction Counseling Center, which helps a lot of people in need in the community.

Elgin needs more people to step up to lead the community.  The only people who are going to make the changes it needs to help it grow are people within the community.  Most people don’t take those roles.  They don’t have the discipline or self-image to take on leadership of a community.  We need YLA to continue breeding more successful leaders who will put Elgin on the map.

5. Why should anyone support YLA?

Besides everything that I already said, there is that quote, “The future is in the youth.”  We have to be very cautious and pay more attention to what our youth are doing these days.  With social media and what is going on in the school environment, we need to make sure to give these kids extra education.  Schools are not enough.  They need more mentors.  They need to learn the values that you gain through YLA.

#YLAHero


The cadets of YLA are spreading the word about YLA and this campaign.  They are participating in a competition to see which grade level team can make the most social media posts using the #YLAHero hashtag.  The team that makes the most posts and get the most shares win free YLA water bottles for their team!

I want to recognize Elsie for putting up an informative post that asked others to get involved in our campaign by donating and sharing her post.  You earned 5 bonus points for the 11th Grade!

Here is how it looks so far:

#Team7: 23 points

#Team8: 4 points

#Team9: 3 points

#Team11: 6 points + 5 bonus points

#Team10, #Team12: 0 points

Our youngest team of cadets is still leading the charge in our social media campaign!  Even if you are not on a team, please join our cadets in raising awareness of YLA and encouraging the community to support YLA using our hashtag!

Next Time

Look forward to your next update next week.  We will be sharing an interview of Anthony Bell, a YLA cadet alum and the current Alumni Representative on the YLA Board.  We will get to learn how YLA has impacted his life and why it is so important to our cadets and our local community.

Thank you,

Sang, YLA Development Specialist

sangyladev@gmail.com

1st Team Update

May 10, 2017

Dear YLA Heroes,

Thank you for signing up as a fundraiser or donating to YLA's Walk for Youth Leadership Campaign! 

Campaign Status

1) Amount raised so far: $385

2) # of registered walkers in the Fox Trot: ~30

3) # of #YLAHero social media posts: 9

Take Action

We have 7 days left to meet our walker registration goal of 100+ walkers for YLA!  Reach out to your friends and family and ask them to sign up to walk with Youth Leadership Academy in the Elgin Fox Trot by May 17th through the link: https://elginvalleyfoxtrot.com/ .

If we are able to get 100 people registered to walk with Youth Leadership Academy, we will receive a $1000 grant from the City of Elgin!  Please note that, even if they cannot physically join us in the walk, their registration still counts!  They will also receive a free Fox Trot t-shirt and a YLA Hero pin.  Please contact me at sangyladev@gmail.com with any questions.

Why are we supporting YLA?

Most of you read Luz's quote on our main campaign page from back when she was a high school senior.  She is currently a sophomore majoring in Psychology and plans to go to graduate school to get a Masters in School Psychology.   We checked in with her the other day to see how she is doing, and she had more to add to her story:

"The biggest thing that I took from YLA is definitely taking initiative and being a leader. In college I've had to work with many different types of people, and a lot of the time I've had to take the leadership role so that things can get done. YLA was a great experience for me and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to go through this program."

Luz is not the only recent alum who has applied her YLA training to her college experience.


"I used to be really shy," said Brenda, describing herself before joining the YLA program.  Brenda is a 2016 YLA graduate who is currently in her freshman year of college.  She connected with one of her YLA mentors, Jackie, with the following Facebook post earlier this year on Jackie's birthday:



They are why we support YLA.  YLA cadets are leaders.  YLA cadets are those who stand up and walk for the marginalized and oppressed in our society.  Please spread the word about YLA and this campaign so that we can continue to produce amazing people like Luz and Brenda.  Stay tuned for more stories with each update!


#YLAHero




The cadets of YLA are spreading the word about YLA and this campaign.  They are participating in a competition to see which grade level team can make the most social media posts using the #YLAHero hashtag.  The team that makes the most posts and get the most shares win free YLA water bottles for their team!  As the first cadet to make a post, I wanted to give moonblaster_x special recognition for being a leader and give the 7th Grade Team five bonus points!

Here is how it looks so far:

#Team7: 6 points (+ 5 bonus points!);

#Team8: 1 point

#Team11: 1 point

#Team9, #Team10, #Team12: 0 points

The 7th Grade Team is killing it!  Our youngest team of cadets is leading the charge in our social media campaign, and I hope that all the other teams will step up their game.

Even if you are not on a team, please join our cadets in raising awareness of YLA and encouraging the community to support YLA using our hashtag and asking our community to walk with us in the Fox Trot! 

Next Time

Look forward to your next update next week.  We will be sharing an interview of Helen Perez, a YLA cadet alum and the current 12th Grade Assistant Trainer.  We will get to learn how YLA has impacted her life and why it is so important to our cadets and our local community.

Thank you,

Sang

YLA Development Specialist

sangyladev@gmail.com


About the Organization

Youth Leadership Academy

The Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which means your donations are tax-deductible!

EIN#: 364314065
Illinois tax exempt number: E9944-9544-03

YLA's mission:

To engage and inspire youth to maximize their potential to become successful community leaders through the access and responsible utilization of post-secondary education.