Portland News

Youth Leadership Organization REAP Offering Multifaceted and Globally Innovative Programming to Young Leaders to Achieve Their Dreams

REAP has made headlines by becoming one of the most influential organizations working to help the next generation of leaders by creating a globally innovative leadership program. Their advocacy becomes even more pressing in the light of the challenges due to the global pandemic. 

Over the past few years, REAP has been focusing on school communities with significant numbers of families in challenging economic circumstances or non-English speaking. Children of these families face the most challenges in negotiating school and life. REAP’s program focuses on the areas of leadership, student voice, cooperative management (conflict resolution), and entrepreneurship.

The REAP solutions program is one of its kind, giving promising youth a chance to join a ten-month leadership curriculum open to students from all backgrounds and cultures. The curriculum provides interactive leadership modules focused on civics, education, health, business, and entrepreneurship. Program offerings make use of specialized, applied-to-learn approaches emphasizing writing, speaking, reading, and inquiry.

The co-founders, Levell Thomas and Mark Jackson, possess the knowledge and expertise on how to execute successful and effective programs as an organizational body for guiding and supporting the youth. In addition, the founders leverage their connections and networks in business, government, and the nonprofit sector in order to help contribute to the growth of young leaders and connect them to mentors and potential employers across communities and the state.

REAP stands out from other youth programs because they prioritize internal motivation over external achievement, foster collaboration, and help see adults as mentors and coaches in their multicultural youth leadership programs. Students participating in the Solutions program learn and demonstrate school and community leadership skills and develop and strengthen academic skills needed for school success, college readiness, and future careers. They also bolster positive behavior, relational communication, and problem-solving skills, such as negotiation and teamwork, and learn the value of serving and collaborating within their community. 

On top of REAP’s advocacies is also the vision to help males of color appreciate their individuality through its Renaissance program. “Our vision is to affirm the positive identity and self-worth of young males of the color of diverse backgrounds. 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,” says one of the co-founders. 

REAP’s Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) creates opportunities for students to unleash their innovation and explore ways to create their own wealth to become self-sufficient. In bringing to scale entrepreneurial opportunities for students between grades 6-12, students develop baseline skills in pursuing business ventures, strengthen public speaking skills, and foster networking skills to build relationships with community members, mentors, and potential business investors.

“We call REAP The United Nations of Youth Empowerment. We are at the leading edge of the demographic changes you can see all around us,” said REAP Founder Levell Thomas. As REAP desires to expand its programs and empower more students, they look forward to partnering and collaborating with philanthropists, CEOs, foundations, grantors, public officials, business owners and generous affluent people as they fulfill their mission. 

In the future, REAP envisions expanding to new districts and states and scaling our world-class eLearning and after-school programming. 

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.