An integrated approach to preparing youth for the 21st century workforce

“The world around us really belongs to youth, for youth will take over its future management. Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world. They must not be discouraged from aspiring toward greatness, for they are to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Mary McLeod Bethune’s “My Last Will and Testament” still serves today as a clarion call to train youth to become informed, full participants in the social and economic forces that will shape the future. The Links, Incorporated created its first program facet, Services to Youth, to equip African-American children to use their intellect and spirit of achievement to indeed walk with their fellows in leading the way.

Today, The Links, Incorporated continues to implement programs that are responsive to the academic, cultural, health, social awareness, career development, and mentoring needs of youth.

The Links, Incorporated’s Services to Youth facet is an integrated approach to preparing young people to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

The primary goals of this facet are to:

  • Promote early literacy
  • Implement local mentoring programs from kindergarten through college
  • Close the academic achievement gaps from kindergarten through college
  • Introduce and support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) education and career readiness
  • Implement college readiness programs
  • Increase high school and college graduation rates
  • Award college scholarships and build educational endowments
  • Promote and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

The Services to Youth facet is currently presenting five national initiatives and two signature programs in support of our mission to enrich the lives of, and advocate for the betterment of, African-American youth.


National Initiatives

National Mentoring Initiative

We seek to step in and serve when, unfortunately, children are growing up without the guidance and support of a caring, responsible adult. Research shows mentoring decreases the likelihood that young people will engage in harmful behaviors, while improving the chances that they will attend school regularly and improve academically.

Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring adults who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the skill set and character of the mentee.

The Links, Incorporated has entered into a national partnership with National Cares Mentoring Movement (NCMM). Through this partnership, local chapters support NCMM’s commitment to closing the gap between the number of African-American adult mentors and the millions of willing African-American children on the waiting lists of mentoring organizations throughout the nation. Chapter members mentor, recruit, register and support mentors in their communities.

Young Achievers Initiative

9th – 12th Grade ~ “Developing the Whole Child”

Young Achievers helps address the issues challenging high school-aged African-American youth. Through a series of workshops and interactive programs, the Young Achievers program supports a successful completion of middle school, and smoothes the transition to high school, college and into chosen careers.

The primary goals of this program are to:

  • Implement mentoring programs for youth, geared to either males or females
  • Close the high school academic achievement gap
  • Implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) related career awareness programs
  • Introduce college readiness programs
  • Promote Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as viable options
  • Introduce financial literacy programs
  • Award college scholarships

S.T.E.M. Education and Career Readiness Initiative

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Education and Career Readiness Initiative was crafted out of The Links, Incorporated’s dedication to ensuring quality S.T.E.M. education at all grade levels so that youth may be exposed to and prepared to study for S.T.E.M. related careers.

Through the National S.T.E.M Initiative, local chapters work to:

  • Close the S.T.E.M. education gap
  • Integrate S.T.E.M. educational programming K-16
  • Facilitate mentoring opportunities
  • Prepare and encourage students to attend community college and/or a four-year college S.T.E.M. related program
  • Prepare students of color to compete in the global workforce
  • Enhance S.T.E.M. related career opportunities

By preparing and encouraging students to attend colleges and universities with S.T.E.M. programs, Links equip students of color with the skills to compete and excel in a global workforce that increasingly relies on individuals with S.T.E.M. related proficiencies. The Links, Incorporated aims to identify and align with a national S.T.E.M. related program that is consistent with the initiative.

National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Initiative:

The goal of the National HBCU Initiative is to implement and support efforts that align with President Obama’s plan to increase the retention and graduation rates of students attending college by the year 2020. While emphasizing the relevance of HBCUs’ past, present and future, this initiative will create synergy and complement program initiatives already underway in the four program areas. Through partnerships with identified national organizations, we will encourage a national dialogue on HBCU/Community College collaboration.

The Links, Incorporated supports HBCUs’ efforts to:

  • Partner with other national organizations
  • Host HBCU college fairs and other events in each geographic region
  • Promote and encourage connection with an HBCU and its S.T.E.M. programs
  • Mentor and recruit students to attend and complete HBCUs
  • Identify opportunities to support faculty research and/or professional development
  • Contribute to the sustainability of HBCU institutions
  • Establish and brand “The Links Scholars” and “The Links HBCU Endowment” names and programs

Education Linkage

Education Linkage supports President Barack Obama’s education initiative aimed at creating partnerships and alliances to educate and prepare youth for the 21st century workforce. The Links, Incorporated has forged a national alliance with Achieving the Dream, Incorporated to launch the “Equation for Excellence Program” with community colleges and HBCUs. Education Linkage will also lead The Links, Incorporated’s efforts to create a sustainable relationship with other national organizations aligned with the Achieving the Dream partnership.

Achieving the Dream, Incorporated (ATD) Partnership

Achieving the Dream, Incorporated, is a multi-year national initiative designed to ensure the success of students who attend community colleges. ATD is particularly concerned with student groups that traditionally have faced significant barriers to success, i.e., students of color and those from low-income families. More than 130 community colleges and four-year institutions participate in ATD programs across the United States.

The ATD community colleges and The Links, Incorporated will bring focus and passion to student success by implementing the Equation for Excellence Program.

The Equation for Excellence collaboration focuses on the personal and realistic accessibility of higher education. The program aims to increase significantly students’ attitudinal and intellectual college readiness at middle and high school grade levels, thus eventually lessening the need for developmental education at the college level.

Equation for Excellence Program goals are to:

  • Improve consistency and quality of volunteer/mentoring interventions
  • Improve student learning outcomes and matriculation into higher education institutions
  • Improve student learning outcomes and graduation rates from ATD community colleges among minority and low-income students
  • Increase student and family financial literacy at the secondary schools which provide a significant number of graduates to ATD community colleges, “feeder schools”, and ATD community colleges
  • Replicate best practices from “feeder schools” and Equation for Excellence community college volunteer interventions at HBCUs close to ATD community colleges

Signature Programs

Links to Success: Children Achieving Excellence Signature Program

K-3rd Grade ~ “An Early Literacy Program”

This signature program is based on the belief that reading is the foundation enabling all children to succeed and that effective teaching of reading must begin at the earliest age with effective literacy practices. The 30 Million Word Gap cites that during the early years of cognitive development, many impoverished children generally hear 30 million fewer words by age three than their privileged peers. With effective intervention, the literacy gap can be closed, and children can then move forward and master other subjects and grade level skills.

The goal of Links to Success: Children Achieving Excellence is to mentor and assist in closing the achievement gap for K-3rd grade minority students with an emphasis on literacy.

Additional goals of Links to Success are to:

  • Partner with national organizations to promote early childhood literacy
  • Emphasize closing the elementary achievement gap
  • Teach critical thinking tactics
  • Introduce S.T.E.M. Education and Career Readiness Programs
  • Prevent early childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyle
  • Expand education and career awareness

Project L.E.A.D. – High Expectations Signature Program

4th – 8th Grade ~ ” Links Educate, Accommodate and Develop with High Expectations”

The title L.E.A.D. reflects The Links, Incorporated’s effort to close the academic achievement gap of middle school students, while responding to their social-emotional needs, encouraging health and fitness, introducing S.T.E.M. related education and career options, and improving their financial literacy. Instilling “High Expectations” in the youth participating in the program is a priority. Project L.E.A.D. participants are empowered to believe that they are capable of making significant contributions to society, and that The Links, Incorporated members and society in general also has high expectations of them. The program goals are to:

  • Emphasize closing the middle school academic achievement gap
  • Eradicate childhood obesity
  • Support the S.T.E.M. Education and Career Readiness Initiative
  • Involve and empower youth to become leaders in violence prevention
  • Introduce and promote financial literacy at an early age
  • Prepare and promote college readiness
  • Develop effective mentoring relationships between children and positive adult role models