More than 400 students from seven area school districts attended a three-day African Heritage Emerging Leader Student Institute event last week at Liberty Hall in Kimberly, along with hundreds of educators who participated in leadership workshops. A $2,500 grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation helped support the event.
By Sabrina Robins, co-chair of African Heritage Emerging Leader Student Institute (AHELSI)
The African Heritage Emerging Student Leaders Institute (AHESLI) was created in 2015 as a response to the needs of Black/African American students in Northeast Wisconsin. AHESLI promotes higher education, career exploration, and job opportunities for students. It is a leadership opportunity for black high school students, college students and K-12 school staff.
The main component of AHESLI is our focus on high school students in 9th-12th grades. For many it is the first time someone outside of their family is telling them they are college material and that they are expected to go.
Our goal is to help them meet personal, academic and career aspirations. Many are in environments where they might be the only black person in their class or maybe one of a handful in their school. This gives them an opportunity to start building a network, which will decrease feelings of isolation.
For the college students, we focus on how to enrich their college experience and help prepare them for the world of work. As black professionals, what does that workplace look like and how can they thrive?
We also have top experts from around the nation train teachers on the importance of cultural competency and building that into the curriculum.
The final important AHESLI component is the role of our community. We make sure the students know the entire Fox Valley cares about them and has a vested interest in becoming members of our local workforce and contributing to the economic well being of our region. We want them to grow and stay in Wisconsin.
I’m so thankful for the support from the Community Foundation, which allows African Heritage, Inc., to have quality programs and get the best researchers to come here to the Fox Cities to support our larger community goals of investing in youth.
You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.