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LIFE (Leading Into Future Education) Middle School Leadership Academy)

LIFE is the middle school leadership academy program, designed to engage 6th, 7th and 8th graders from the McPherson Neighborhood. Originally conceived in 2007 as an elective class at Silverado Middle School, the program works to further develop the next generation of leaders who recognize the importance of staying connected to their community and can identify their impact on the world.

In 2010, the LIFE program was strategically restructured in order to be closer aligned with the MNI vision. We wanted serve more of the neighborhood youth who were not able to take the class at Silverado due to low academic performance and/or English language learner (ELL) classification. Additionally, we wanted to allow the LIFE youth to be more actively involved with the Democracy Zone and the creation of the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza.

Currently, LIFE has 47 6th, 7th & 8th grade neighborhood youth enrolled in an afterschool program that is housed at McPherson Elementary School. Program components include academic intervention for low-performing and/or ELL students and project groups related to the leadership academies’ work and activities. The project group coaches are junior and senior members of LAYLA, allowing for peer mentoring and youth development to happen on multiple levels simultaneously. LIFE represents a vital link in the pipeline for success by bridging the gap between the neighborhood children leaving McPherson Elementary and the high school-aged LAYLA youth.

Some of the current LIFE projects include:

  • Leadership Academy Yearbook:A group of the LIFE youth are creating the 1st Leadership Academy Yearbook, with both a digital and print version, and they plan on promoting all three leadership academies: MYLA, LIFE and LAYLA. These youth are engaged in documenting the various activities and events the different hosted by the leadership academies throughout the year, as well as feature the individual stories of the youth participants. This project group is providing a space for learning with the many different technologies being worked with, as well as encouraging collaboration and creativity.
  • Plaza Events:With the creation of the Democracy Zone and the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza, the need was born for a group to oversee and plan the community events that would be taking place. The Plaza Events project group has already hosted a summer “Water Day” for neighborhood children and is kicking off the 1st McPherson Neighborhood Cook-Off. These youth are constantly practicing democracy by listening to what the community wants and hosting events that serve the neighborhood.
  • Community Build:In collaboration with LAYLA, the Community Build project group exists not only to carry-out the literal purpose of continuing to build the Cultural Plaza, but also to continue to cultivate the sense of “community” amongst the more than 120 youth participants in our three youth leadership academies (MYLA, LIFE & LAYLA).