January isn’t just the fresh beginning of a New Year, it’s also National Mentoring Month! At New Look, we define mentoring as any opportunity to help our teens make strides towards their “spark”, or greater purpose. Our mentoring mission is to provide access, awareness and exposure, so that all students, regardless of where they come from, have the opportunity to dream with no limits. This year was our most limitless year to date. Our programs maintained 100% graduation rates for UNL High School Academy students, AND we surpassed having served and trained over 42,000 students! Thanks to some amazing new partners and individuals, we were able to do more of what we do best: Sparking the next generation of global leaders. From the personal achievements and stories of our students, to new organizational milestones, join us in taking a look back on a few of our most “spark-inspiring” moments of 2016:
Launched our first youth center, the New UNL Spark Center
In 2016, we announced the opening of the UNL Spark Center, an incubator-style hub for New Look’s high school and college students to learn, create and innovate with the goal of inspiring more youth to become producers rather than consumers. The new facility, attached to our headquarters in Midtown, Atlanta, GA, came out of our students’ need for a safe space to go after-school and on-weekends and their desire to hone in on their sparks in a collaborative environment.
Recognized by the White House!
In 2016, we were invited to participate in two White House initiatives around youth and education, The Next Generation High School Summit and My Brother’s Keeper Achievement Report. These honors have opened many new doors of opportunity for us to reach more students!
In-School Academies Take Off!
In 2016, three partner schools began incorporating our curriculum into their regular school day, allowing students to take “New Look” as a course for in-school credit. The best part? The curriculum facilitators in each of these schools, Tommy Springer, Brandon Hamilton and Kamera Cobb, are all New Look program alumni. You’ll find them at Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County, GA and Pebblebrook and Campbell High Schools in Cobb County, GA.
Broke Down Borders
In 2016, we took our Powered by Service leadership curriculum to the Dominican Republic, training and certifying over 175 international students in partnership with Ford Foundation. The training brought together teens and community leaders from Haiti and DR to spark a cross cultural conversation on how to bring about social justice and economic equality.
Hosted Our First Moguls in Training Retreat
Thanks to our sponsor FedEx, all New Look college students were invited to Atlanta for a weekend of personal and professional development. It was the first time all of our college students nationwide were able to come together in one place. Watch the video to see what the retreat meant to them.
New Look Alum, Jasmine Pollard, Produces First Original Songs
In 2016, we helped Jasmine Pollard, a New Look alum who joined our program way back in the 7th grade, follow her spark of becoming a recording artist. Through a Kickstarter campaign launched by UNL, Jasmine raised enough money to record her first two original songs ‘Queen Anyway’ and ‘Stuntin on my Ex’, which are now available for streaming on all digital music platforms! Jasmine also received the opportunity perform her music alongside musician, Gwen Hughes, at benefit concerts for New Look in Atlanta and New York. In September, Jasmine volunteered to help New Look high school students write an original song called ‘Start the Spark’, which they recorded and performed at our signature fundraising event. Watch Jasmine’s story:
Partnered with Get Schooled!
In 2016, we wanted to help more students discover their “spark” and how to use it to change the world, so we teamed up with Viacom’s education platform, Get Schooled. The partnership started when Usher and some of the New Look peer trainers surprised students at Get Schooled’s School for Human Rights in Brooklyn, NY with a session and conversation on social injustice. Later in the Spring, we partnered again to create our first online digital badge activity open to high school students nationwide on GetSchooled.com! Through a series of interactive lessons featuring Usher and New Look youth leaders like Mary-Pat Hector, teens across the country received a New Look on how to #StartTheSpark and lead with purpose and intention. Nearly 7,000 New Look badge activities were completed on GetSchooled.com! One lucky student who completed the badge, Sophia Brown, won a trip to Atlanta to spend the week as a New Look student at the Spark Center.
Welcomed our First New Look Valedictorian!
In 2016, UNL Atlanta student Taylor Dalton was named New Look Atlanta’s first valedictorian and started at GA Tech as an Industrial Engineering major with her Associates Degree already completed! Talk about shoes to fill, but we are expecting another in 2017. Stay tuned!
Welcomed Our First Two Authors!
In 2016, we encouraged two of our student authors to publish their work! UNL Atlanta college student, Taliyah Holloway, published her book, ‘The Choice Is Yours’ via Watt Pad and Deon Mixon, a college student of New Look Detroit, published two books as part of ‘The Lethal Creed Saga’, both available on Amazon!
In 2016, our job shadows and internship opportunities were off the chain! Every student who expressed interest was matched with a career exposure opportunity to match their spark:
In Atlanta, three college students received paid internships General Electric.
Atlanta High School students learned photography from celeb photographer, Dewayne Rogers.
Launched our first group project out of the UNL Spark Center with Upscale Hype
A group of Atlanta high school and college students with interests in fashion, marketing and technology interned virtually with men’s fashion website, Upscale Hype.
Aspiring culinary chef, Melvin Taylor, a junior at McNair High School in Atlanta, GA, cooked alongside his New Look mentor, Food Network celebrity, Chef Tregaye Fraser.
Together, they prepared all the dishes for our Start the Spark Exclusive open house for the new UNL Spark Center.
Detroit college student, Myles Harlan, interned for the summer at Ford Motor Company.
In New York, our high school students job shadowed for a day at Twitter and Facebook Headquarters and learned how to become DJs at Jam Master Jay’s Scratch DJ Academy.
Aspiring high school actress, Kayah, job shadowed Lupita Nyongo on Broadway.
In Detroit, students shadowed and served at the Humane Society.
Added Some Innovation to our Signature Fundraising Event!
In 2016, we changed the format of our signature event from a seated luncheon to an interactive warehouse experience with awards. Guests got to immerse themselves in the experience of what it will be like to be a New Look student with access to the new Spark Center. From playing with virtual reality in the General Electric Game Loft to becoming content creators in Studio B4, guests got the chance to identify their own hidden “sparks”. The best part though? New Look students were able to gain exposure within their various “sparks” by helping plan the event. From the graphic design to the food, every piece of the event was led by New Look high school and college students. Another highlight? Our featured speaker, TED Talks celebrity and author, Simon Sinek.
Teamed up with Ludacris to train more youth!
Helping students find and apply for scholarship opportunities is critical to getting our 100% graduating seniors to college! In addition, in 2016 New Look Atlanta student, Patience Bigby, received the Usher Raymond IV UNCF $100,000 and started her freshman year at Alabama A&M this year. Another great moment, was the Tearte Family Foundation’s scholarship surprise for New Look college student, Desirae Gibson, and graduate student, Shani Moore. Watch both moments below!