INTROSPECTION AND POSITIVE ACTIONS L.E.A.D. ATLANTA
: a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings
This post is about an amazing non profit organization – L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). In order to understand its depth and the impact on us all you need insight into its founders and the thought process behind its creation. It is impossible to separate the two.
L.E.A.D. is a culmination of life lessons learned by founders CJ and Kelli Stewart. L.E.A.D. came to be because CJ and Kelli chose to take positive action on their life experiences and share their lessons in an effort to serve others.
Moreover, the thought processes developed from CJ Stewart’s ability to be introspective and honest with himself is the impetus for L.E.A.D. He was able to create, and is able to sustain, an organization such as L.E.A.D due in part to his ability to deeply and honestly reflect on where he’s been, what he’s learned, knowing who he is and what he wants to achieve.
CJ grew up in Atlanta’s inner city and if not for community support he would not have realized his dream of playing for the Chicago Cubs. He was first drafted by the Cubs right out of high school but his parents encouraged him to attend Georgia State University because they felt he needed the time to mature. The Cubs drafted CJ a second time after college. He had matured but lacked the mentorship needed to understand what it meant to be part of a professional organization like the Cubs. He didn’t appreciate all of the resources made available to him by the Cubs and wasn’t prepared to take advantage of what they had to offer. CJ’s pro career may have been longer and much more successful if he had.
After the Cubs, CJ took his professional baseball experiences and started a business helping young men realize their goals of having successful careers as student/athletes in college and at the professional level. His thriving business, Diamond Directors, helps paying clients reach their college and career goals in baseball. He came to realize, however, that there was an underserved group of athletic young men in the inner city. They were kept from achieving the same success as those paying clients because they lacked the finances for professional instruction, strength training, travel teams, showcases, etc. So based on this realization, he set out to change that and L.E.A.D. was born.
L.E.A.D. is a means to an end. Through L.E.A.D., young men from the inner city, have an opportunity, when they may not otherwise, to earn an education and commit to improving themselves and their communities. They learn the discipline and commitment to improve by developing their raw athletic talent in baseball through L.E.A.D.
The acronym L.E.A.D. stands for Launch. Expose. Advise. Direct. L.E.A.D. works to:
Launch educational opportunities by converting the raw baseball talent of inner city middle and high school males to skills that are attractive to college coaches for scholarships.
Expose its L.E.A.D.ers to service and local enrichment activities in order to instill a sense of responsibility, belonging and investment; key requirements for building a civically engaged individual.
Advise players, coaches and parents on the process of effectively supporting dreams of playing baseball on the college level.
Direct young men toward their promise by using the historical journey of past African American legends in baseball and the community as the roadmap. Once they have a connection to the game, they can begin to appreciate the contributions made by all the people who have and are baseball and communities great.
To date 83% of L.E.A.D.’s Ambassador graduates have earned college baseball scholarships and 100% of them have gone to college, evidence that L.E.A.D. is successful in accomplishing what it sets out to do….taking the dreams of families in the inner city and making those dreams of graduating from high school and going to college a reality through baseball.
L.E.A.D. runs off of donations of time and money. You will reap the benefits ultimately from either. Find out how you can help here.
Sources: CJ and Kelli Stewart and “Taking the L.E.A.D.” interview in Oct/Nov/Dec i[x] magazine.
And, remember…Feed Your Good Dog, so your good dog always wins!
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