A highlight of our work at LeaderShape is learning about the contributions that LeaderShapers are making in their communities and for the world. Each year, when reviewing the applications for the annual Palmer Award, we have the privilege of doing just that.
We recently announced Felix Hartmann as this year’s recipient. Now we’d like to introduce this year’s group of finalists. Meet Mansur and Valeria, two of the six Palmer Award finalists.
Mansur Buffins, from the University of Georgia (UGA), is committed to his vision of supporting Black male students in middle school. He envisions of community of Black male role models, schools filled with Black male students excelling academically and socially, and a society in which Black males are positively engaged in their communities. Young Black Kings, a mentoring program at Clarke Middle School (GA), is Mansur’s vision in action.
Young Black Kings is working towards its mission through mentorship, weekly empowerment sessions, and field trips. These activities give the participants an opportunity to learn about and discuss topics that will help them grow and find success and provide a way to connect and engage with one another in a fun and stress-free environment. Topics and activities include positive decision making, confidence building, bowling, and community meals. Beyond the involvement at Clarke Middle School, this program includes students from UGA as mentors.
Valeria Fuentes, a participant from the Baltimore Collegetown Network session of the Institute, is also working towards her vision with local schools, creating an after school program called Kinetic Kitchen. Kinetic Kitchen, with support from the non-profit Humanim, provides free classes on cooking, nutrition, and growing food to elementary school children in West Baltimore.
Valeria is a recipient of the France-Merrick Fellowship for community engagement through Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and has recently partnered with local organizations Modernnature and Hungry Harvest. This support is enhancing the Kinetic Kitchen classes and is helping Valeria tackle her vision to address food desserts in Baltimore through education and access to resources.