Lee Connellee was first introduced to UrbanPromise Charlotte when he heard Executive Director Jimmy McQuilkin speak at a City Series luncheon at Church at Charlotte.
Launched in the fall of 2013, UrbanPromise Charlotte’s mission is to provide Charlotte’s children and youth with the spiritual, academic, and social development necessary to be Christian leaders determined to restore their communities.
“I was impressed by the mission and grass root program where high school students are employed as ‘Street Leaders’ to mentor and tutor elementary school children in marginalized and underserved neighborhoods of our region,” Lee says. “In turn, the Street Leaders are paired with adult mentors who help them with everything from college testing, entrance applications, student financial aid applications, and general advice to advance their education.”
Drawn by the program’s sustainable model that will grow as students move from elementary to high school, becoming future Street Leaders, Lee began serving as a class “options” advisor.
“I help the Street Leaders develop and implement a cooking class for elementary school children. The class meets every Wednesday evening for 10 weeks. Street Leader cooking class planning and debriefing is held every Friday afternoon,” Lee explains.
Through his service with the cooking class, Lee has seen the Street Leaders in action.
“JJ, a senior at Harding University High School, is one of the Street Leaders who is involved in the Cooking Class. He is a jazz musician who chose working at Urban Promise over playing High School football,” Lee shares. “JJ is organized and a natural leader. He is the first to stand at the white board during our meal planning sessions documenting the next weeks’ program.”
“During our weekly classes, JJ will lead the student activities. Josephine, another senior at Harding, transposes notes on her iPhone including recipe look-up along with the ingredient listing that needs to be purchased as well as equipment needed to prep. Josephine is in charge of the food preparation. These are just two of the Street leaders I have direct involvement with. They are dedicated and focused on the students they are responsible for helping. Usually when I arrive, the Street leaders are in a classroom helping students with their math homework, looking at their papers, using the white board to review math problems, etc.”
Lee looks forward to his continued involvement with UrbanPromise Charlotte.
“In the fall, I intend to become a one-on-one mentor for Street Leaders.”