As a young nonprofit, Behailu Academy began feeling a little uncertain about how to develop in a way that would best meet the overwhelming needs in the community we serve. We provide arts-based youth development programs that implement a holistic approach to empower underserved teens to find their voice. We approached our organization’s growth it in the same way we encourage teens to approach their lives–letting challenges become opportunities and inspiration, and relying on others in the community for support.
In fall of last year, though, my friend and colleague Sil Ganzó told me about SEED20. We both decided to apply, certain that the novel experience would seem less daunting if we were in it together! Sil’s friendship and support were great motivations throughout the process for me. However, going through SEED20 proved to provide a great deal more support for me as well.
I have been working in the Charlotte community for over a decade, but when I started working with Behailu, I was a newbie in the nonprofit world. Almost like a freshman in high school, I felt uncertain about how to navigate this new professional world. For me, SEE20 was like a high school cafeteria. It gave me opportunities to network with other young nonprofit leaders (at the 9th grade table, of course) and connect with experienced professionals in the nonprofit and private sector (the juniors and seniors of my new professional space).
The Seed20 process, like the Behailu Academy experience for teens, helped me find and raise my voice. I was able to develop my pitch, network in the community, and passionately promote an organization with a mission to make a difference. I no longer felt like a freshman, with uncertainty and reservation lingering just below the surface. SEE20 helped me gain so much confidence in myself and support in the community that, by program’s end, I felt like a senior walking across the stage, diploma in hand, eager to take the next exciting step of her life.
SEED20 was an important part of my professional journey into the nonprofit sector and has provided Behailu Academy with the confidence to move ahead with our mission to empower teens to find their voice through the arts, academics and community service. We’re now in the process of planning year-round programming to keep our students engaged in the summers, as well as programming to support our graduates as they navigate the world as young adults. We want to ensure our teens are supported through graduation and beyond because we know their success as adults isn’t solely achieved with a diploma alone.
For more information about Behailu Academy, visit behailuacademy.org.