Growing into a leader

May. 8, 2023

I love watching young people grow into leaders—leaders who take responsibility, commit themselves to personal growth and recognize their influence on others.

It’s powerful. Leaders change communities and families.

That’s why UrbanPromise alumnus Melisa Ibarra inspires me so deeply.

“I’ve encouraged my younger sister Fatima to join the StreetLeader program this summer,” she shared recently. “She struggles a bit academically, but I know her involvement will keep her focused and help her grow.” Melisa is a great role model for eighth grade Fatima, who is now hoping to land her first job with us.

And Fatima listens to her older sister Melisa.

Besides influencing her siblings, Melisa is now finishing her sophomore year at Rutgers University, and is a dynamic leader on campus. “I’m part of the servant leadership team with our campus ministry and I’ve just applied to chair the Mexican American Student Association activities committee.” Melisa seizes opportunities to grow and contribute.

“Whenever I share my story with other students and faculty,” she adds, “I talk about UrbanPromise and how I learned leadership through the StreetLeader program. My confidence was birthed in that program. I also grew in my Christian faith. I want my sister to have the same experience.”

Earlier this month, 200 Camden teens attended our StreetLeader summer job orientation, including Fatima. Sixty-five teens will ultimately be selected based on attendance, participation, references and interviews. For many, it will be their first summer job.

I still don’t know if Fatima will be chosen as one of the sixty-five. But I do know she’ll have a strong reference letter….from her older sister. I wish all the applicants could be hired.

Summer jobs are critical for Camden teens. As the largest private employer of teens in the city, UrbanPromise will give sixty-five local teens meaningful work as counselors and tutors, and coaches for younger children—and will challenge them to grow academically and professionally.

I’m asking you to consider underwriting a teen at job this summer. This program can’t happen without you. We need to raise $141,000 to hire all sixty-five teens.

Here’s how we can do it:

  • 1 Gift of $25,000
  • 2 Gifts of $10,000
  • 7 Gifts of $5,000  *StreetLeader Partner Level
  • 10 Gifts of $2,500
  • 15 Gifts of $1,000
  • 20 Gifts of $500 *StreetLeader Sponsor Level
  • 24 Gifts of $250
  • 50 Gifts of $100

If everyone owns a piece of this financial goal we can get this done—we can say yes to 65 kids. I look forward to sharing the success with you.

Bless you in advance for your generous spirit and gift.

Bruce Main
President & Founder

PS. Melisa has another younger sister named Val. Val is also a StreetLeader. And you can probably guess why!