For Immediate Release
July 26, 2013
Contact Information

Paula Thornton Greear

(BPRW) Tavis Smiley Foundation Welcomes Youth to Leadership Institute

- "˜Teens: Too Important to Fail' -

(BLACK PR WIRE) – LOS ANGELES, CA (July 26, 2013) – The Tavis Smiley Foundation will host more than 100 middle, high school and college students representing 10 states to participate in the Foundation’s 2013 Leadership Institute. The theme for this year’s conference is TEENS: TOO IMPORTANT TO FAIL.

The Leadership Institute will be held Friday, July 26 through Monday, July, 29 on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Students will join noted broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author Tavis Smiley for four days of leadership training, community service, youth advocacy, education and civic engagement.

Over the past 10 years, more than 4,000 youths have participated in the Leadership Institute. Alumni include Pennsylvania State Representative Jordan Harris, and Cortlan Wickliff, one of the youngest African American males to receive a law degree from Harvard.

“We offer the Youth to Leadership Institute because it is in our country’s best interest to empower our youth to develop a better understanding of their potential as leaders,” said Smiley. “The students joining us this week are amongst the future stewards of our communities across the country.”

In addition to a keynote address offered by Smiley, speakers include UCLA history professor Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, and Aja Brown, the recently elected mayor of Compton, CA.

Youth delegates, ages 13-19, were selected based on academic achievement, demonstrated and potential leadership, an essay and letter of recommendation. Collectively, this year’s class has donated more than 2,000 hours of community service in the last year.

Students will participate in a Teen Town Hall meeting on juvenile justice moderated by Smiley, workshops on college planning, money management, leadership concepts, healthy living, entrepreneurship, and using social media. Other activities include a community service project, talent show and an awards program.

A key of component of the Institute is the Foundation’s National Youth Advisory Council, comprised of 13 high school students from across the country. Council members serve for three years as special ambassadors to the Foundation and help design and manage the Institute.

“Despite what we often hear our generation is concerned about giving back to our communities and issues that will impact our future such as the high teen unemployment rate and the rising cost of a college education,” said Maxine Dior Chapman, a junior at Howard University and member of the Foundation’s National Youth Advisory Council. “We’re ready to welcome the students to the Leadership Institute and give them a chance to express their views and find their voice to empower themselves and their communities.”

The Coca-Cola Foundation provided major funding for the Leadership Institute.



9:00 a.m.
Social Media Advocacy Keynote

10:00 a.m. Tavis Smiley Keynote: Teens: Too Important to Fail

7:00 p.m. Teen Town Hall Meeting Moderated by Tavis Smiley
Panelists: Dr. Robin Kelley, Anthony Perry (St. Francis High School), Maxine Chapman (Howard University student), Compton Mayor Aja Brown, Camille Fonseca (Yale University student)


10:30 a.m. Dare to Dream Big Keynote Session Featuring Billionaire PA

2:30 p.m. Hands on Community Service Project: Letters to Veterans

7:00 p.m. Closing Awards Program with Tavis Smiley

EDITOR’S NOTE: Media should report to DeNeve Plaza, 351 Charles E. Young Drive West, Los Angeles, CA lobby for credentials and check-in. You must purchase campus parking passes at UCLA kiosks at the campus’ main gates. The parking structure closest to DeNeve is called Parking Structure DD; Dykstra-DeNeve Parking.

For more information, visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on twitter at

About the Tavis Smiley Foundation

The Tavis Smiley Foundation is a nonprofit 501c3 organization founded in 1999 by Tavis Smiley to enlighten, encourage, and empower youth by providing leadership training that will promote and enhance the quality of life for their lives, their community and the world. Since its inception, more than 6,500 youth have participated in the foundation’s leadership workshops and conferences. The foundation, celebrating its 14th year in existence is based in Los Angeles.