What development means to LEAD Center For Youth

At LEAD Center For Youth, development is more than just a word; it embodies our commitment and mission. We define development as the Deliberate Effort to Value and Empower Learners to Obtain Personal Mastery and Excellence through Nurturing Training.

This definition guides everything we do, especially our highest level of programming, the LEAD Ambassadors. These Black boys from Metropolitan Atlanta are nurtured to become Major League Players and Major League Citizens. Achieving this requires a partnership with LEAD, their parents and additional supporters.

Over the next few weeks, I will break down our development definition, starting with the concept of deliberate effort.

Deliberate Effort in LEAD’s Development Approach

Deliberate effort is at the core of our development philosophy. It’s about intentionality in every action we take, ensuring we create the best possible environment for our youth to thrive. Here are some key examples of how we implement deliberate effort at LEAD:

  • Who We Recruit to Develop
  • Our Namesake
  • What We Wear
Who We Recruit to Develop

We specifically recruit Black American boys from metro Atlanta because this is home for my wife, Kelli, and me. Kelli, the CEO of LEAD, was born in Atlanta and raised in Oglethorpe County. She graduated from Cedar Shoals High School in 1996. I was born and raised in Atlanta, graduating from Westlake High School in 1994.

We now live in Cobb County, with our 5,500-square-foot LEAD Center For Youth indoor training facility located in the Historic West End of Atlanta. Our deliberate focus on serving Black boys from our community is rooted in our personal and professional commitment to giving back to the place that shaped us.

Our Namesake

The LEAD Ambassadors pay homage to U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, a childhood hero of mine and a global icon. Andrew Young supports LEAD and represented the diplomatic and leadership qualities we aim to instill in our youth when he served as the U.S. Ambassador. Just as he and Hank Aaron were present at my baseball games at Cascade Youth Organization (CYO), we strive to be there for our boys, inspiring them to greatness.

The term “Ambassador” signifies a government-designated diplomatic representative, and our LEAD Ambassadors embody this role by promoting the game of baseball and serving as inspirations in Atlanta and beyond.

What We Wear

Our colors, power red and black, are symbolic. Red represents life, and black stands for power. Growing up in Atlanta, I was surrounded by the powerful red of brands like Coca-Cola, the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Falcons, Delta, and CNN. These global brands symbolize the strength and vitality we want our boys to associate with.

LEAD, while not yet a household name, is recognized worldwide for our mission since our founding in 2007. Our organization uses baseball and tennis to teach Black youth how to overcome crime, poverty, and racism. Our vision is to develop Black youth into Ambassadors who will lead Atlanta and, ultimately, the world.

At LEAD, excellence is non-negotiable. We lead with deliberate effort to ensure our youth receive the best training and support possible.

Next week, I will delve into how we Value and Empower Learners. Stay tuned as we continue to explore what development means to LEAD Center For Youth.

Remember, this definition belongs to LEAD and cannot be used without our written permission.

Thank you for being part of our journey.

For more information, visit L.E.A.D. Center for Youth today.

If you found this inspiring and thought-provoking, or if you have any questions, comments or concerns, add me on Discord and let’s go deeper.

C.J. Stewart has built a reputation as one of the leading professional hitting instructors in the country. He is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization and has also served as an associate scout for the Cincinnati Reds. As founder and CEO of Diamond Directors Player Development, C.J. has more than 22 years of player development experience and has built an impressive list of clients, including some of the top young prospects in baseball today. If your desire is to change your game for the better, C.J. Stewart has a proven system of development and a track record of success that can work for you.