Erin Stanford, of Swainsboro, is one of 30 youth from across Georgia selected to participate in the inaugural statewide Youth LEAD Georgia program that will be run by the University of Georgia.
These 30 10th- and 11th-graders were selected by an external committee from more than 300 nominations received by UGA. A partnership between the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Chick-fil-A, and Rodney Bullard’s The Same House organization, the Youth LEAD Georgia program is designed to equip youth with the skills and knowledge necessary to be the future leaders of our state. “The outpouring of interest we saw in this program and the incredible quality and quantity of youth nominated created a very competitive selection process,” said Matt Bishop, director of the UGA Fanning Institute. “Through this selection process, we have strived to reflect our state in this inaugural class.”
The first Youth LEAD Georgia class will begin in January on the UGA campus in Athens. In all, the program will consist of four weekend retreats held in different communities across the state and a four-day summer bus tour. A generous $1.5 million pledge from Chick-fil-A to the UGA Fanning Institute is providing financial support for the weekend retreats, bus tour, and an annual youth leadership summit that will take place at UGA beginning in 2024.
Thanks to Chick-fil-A’s generous pledge, the program is available at no cost to youth participants. Bullard, CEO of The Same House, fellow Georgia business leader Fred Hicks, and faculty at the UGA Fanning Institute collaboratively designed the concept of the program. UGA Fanning Institute faculty developed the programming and curriculum and will facilitate Youth LEAD Georgia. Experiential activities, in-depth dialogue on current issues and challenges facing Georgia, and opportunities to interact with prominent business and community leaders will complement the leadership training. Furthermore, Youth LEAD Georgia will also offer opportunities for these future leaders to put their new knowledge and leadership skills into action in their communities through a generous gift from Bullard. His gift will enable Youth LEAD Georgia participants to take on community service projects in their local communities.
“Youth LEAD Georgia aligns with our mission at The Same House and is exactly the kind of program of collegiality and collaboration that we want to foster in tomorrow’s leaders and as a legacy to the state of Georgia,” Bullard said. “Both Youth LEAD Georgia and the community service projects highlight three priority areas for The Same House: youth, education and training, and community improvement, and we are excited to be a partner in this effort.”
Both Youth LEAD Georgia and the youth leadership summit scheduled for summer 2024 reflect UGA’s commitment to preparing leaders and improving life for all Georgians, Bishop said.
“Equipping the next generation of leaders with the skills and knowledge to strengthen Georgia’s communities and build a better quality of life rests at the heart of our mission at UGA and the Fanning Institute,” Bishop said. “Youth LEAD Georgia and our youth leadership summit reflect that commitment and wouldn’t be possible without our partnership with Chick-fil-A and The Same House.”
The Fanning Institute, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, trains, inspires and equips community leaders of all ages and from all walks of life to lead positively and meaningfully in community and civic affairs, address critical challenges, bring people together and develop solutions that will lead to stronger and more vital communities across Georgia and beyond.