Why Do We Do It?

We are on a mission to ensure under-resourced young people graduate from high school, are ready for college, and identify a career that drives them. As academic requirements become more rigorous for high schools, the focus on skills necessary to succeed, like communication, collaboration, and leadership, are diminished leaving many young people unprepared for what’s to come. Students who drop out of high school earn tend to earn less than a living wage and are more likely to succumb to negative pressures. We are preparing students to complete their education and compete in a global, information-based economy with 21st Century skills that will set them up for success in the near and far future.

How do we do it?

This four-year program exposes high school students to the tools and skillsets needed to achieve success after high school and helps them identify careers that align with their passions. Each year, the students are engaged in meaningful experiences through UNL’s curriculum and strategic opportunities. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the opportunity to experience each of UNL’s four pillars: Talent, Education, Career and Service. While students are preparing for the SAT/ACT, they learn how to write successful college applications, navigate the financial aid process, and plan college visits and interviews. Corporate sponsors and community volunteers introduce them to a variety of careers through “motivational minute” presentations and job-shadowing opportunities. Through our peer-to-peer training model, youth explore their “spark”, develop leadership skills, mentor younger students and spearhead service projects in their communities and nationally.

4 Pillars of Focus. 4 Transformative Years.

Students who attend Leadership Academy will participate either within their school or during a city-wide session at a UNL location.

  • 9th grade (Talent)- Youth personally assess their “sparks” and engage in activities that allow them to develop, share and understand how their talents can be used to power their education and careers, while benefiting their community.
  • 10th Grade (Education) – Youth are provided with an in-depth look into the power of education and how it’s used as a vehicle to success. They are equipped with tools that assist in goal setting and navigating the post-secondary education process.
  • 11th Grade (Career)- Youth participate in a variety of engaging activities that allow them to acquire job-readiness skills. Opportunities are provided to apply the skills obtained in real-world experiences, including job shadowing, resume preparation and job interviews.
  • 12th Grade (Service)- Youth expand their perspective on philanthropy and service through research, interaction with service leaders and organizing and implementing service projects.
  • Academy students also attend four “Spark Days” that provide an extended and meaningful experience based upon each of the four pillars: Talent, Education, Career and Service.

Fuel your spark