The pandemic has caused a great shift in industries across the world. People have adapted practices that have been proven effective amid the restrictions. And so, as such restrictions gradually relax, new practices brought by the pandemic are valued and are envisioned to stay even after the global crisis. Among them is REAP’s transition to the virtual space, which not only maintained the organization’s ability to hone the skills of the next generation of leaders but also expanded its reach and allowed it to cater to more students across the country. Despite the challenges, REAP succeeded in ensuring that its students are equipped with the right knowledge, tools, and resources to be the best leaders for the future.
Founded in 2001, REAP offers multifaceted leadership programs geared towards empowering and uplifting resilient leaders. Through its partnership with schools and communities, REAP is able to help children from challenging circumstances to cope with the many hurdles they are faced with. Its leadership programs are designed to empower students to find their voice and achieve their dreams, focusing on leadership, empowerment, justice, equality, and human rights.
For a while, the pandemic has limited REAP’s capacity to change lives, but the organization quickly adapted to the times and transitioned its programs to the digital space. The leaders of REAP shared that the transition has been costly, with much of its development relying purely on donations. Nevertheless, the organization remained committed to going above and beyond for its students, maintaining its contributions focused on their leadership development.
For over two decades, REAP has played an integral role in raising leaders, and the organization has made it clear since the beginning that even a pandemic will not stop them from achieving its goal. Embracing the virtual transition with determination and innovation, REAP taught its students the very meaning of resiliency itself, a value it strives to instill among its students.
“Our vision is to affirm the positive identity and self-worth of young males of color of diverse backgrounds,” shared Mark Jackson. “REAP accomplishes this by promoting positive images of males, developing their leadership potential, and fostering their innovative abilities. Our young men model leadership through peer mentoring, civic engagement, business innovation, and public speaking,” he added further.
REAP’s mission to empower the youth is carried out through various programs. Among them is the Solution Program, a 10-month leadership curriculum that provides a series of interactive leadership modules focused on civics, education, health, business and entrepreneurship. The organization also offers the Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP), which creates opportunities for students to innovate and explore ways to generate their own wealth and become self-sufficient individuals. In addition, it offers the Reflections program focused on self-reflection and addressing behavioral issues. This program’s components include Elevate, an intervention program that promotes student’s right to equal access of education and address their behavioral issues; the REAP School Climate Surveys analyzing fair discipline policies to foster positive school culture; and Mindful Moments, which is an exercise that allows working with students to promote quick problem-solving skills and reinforce de-escalation techniques so they can approach situations with composed resolutions.
REAP has programs for students between the grades of three and 12. The organization also shared that it is exploring more ways to expand to new districts and states, offering its world-class after-school programs to more students across the country.