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Business leaders give Baton Rouge Youth Coalition helping hand through Success Labs Leadership Coaching Series

Wednesday, a group of business leaders from our Leadership Coaching Series presented detailed action plans to help The Baton Rouge Youth Coalition increase its community impact and further its mission of helping high-achieving and under-resourced high school students attend and graduate from college.

The presentations were the culmination of our 5-week Leadership Coaching Series, which features competency-based leadership assessments, experiential learning, individual coaching and development planning. The experience is capped off by a community-based project supporting a nonprofit organization through the development of actions plans detailing how that organization can expand its mission.

For this round we partnered with an amazing organization, The Baton Rouge Youth Coalition (BRYC), which prepares under-resourced high school students to enter and graduate from college so they can become full participants in society.

BRYC is a remarkable organization with a proven record of success. The center pushes students to their full potential and helps them discover their strengths through multiple programs, tutoring and academic coaching, as well as ACT prep and testing. BRYC also offers financial aid assistance and college prep to help students find and graduate from the college of their dreams.

For the Spring series, BRYC leaders asked for ways to increase awareness and visibility of the organization and the impact and value it provides to the community, as well as strategies and opportunities for the organization to increase funding and donor acknowledgement. This was a perfect challenge for our teams of business leaders to tackle.

Creativity and Strategic Thinking

At its core, the Leadership Coaching Series community-impact project is designed to encourage participants to develop innovative ways to overcome real-world challenges the partner organization is facing. This round of the series was focused on developing skills around creativity and strategic thinking — and these participants absorbed those concepts and developed some high-quality ideas that could have a real impact on a community organization that is doing vital work in the Baton Rouge area.

To meet this challenge, leaders from multiple companies split up into two groups — Team Highland and Team Perkins. Next, they developed and presented their final plans directly to BRYC officials and a group of business executives, who offered feedback on the content and delivery.

Both teams did an excellent job of taking in the content we covered in the series over the past few weeks and putting it into action by focusing on BRYC’s current areas of strengths to help grow its profile in the community, attract more donors and ultimately expand its already impressive impact. Best of all, these are real ideas that BRYC can implement or build upon.

“I think the presentations were a great combination of everything that BRYC needs and what we’re looking for,” says Josh Howard, BRYC’s Managing Director of Community. “The participants really heard us and their ideas made us think about how we currently do things and how we can do them differently and better.” 

Real-World Solutions

Team Highland’s recommendations focused largely on low-cost, high-impact opportunities to increase BRYC’s profile in the community — for example, the team created and wore matching BRYC t-shirts for their presentation . They suggested the organization dive into street-level marketing at festivals, sports events and other community happenings with volunteers who would wear similar shirts and name tags with the BRYC Logo that say “Ask Me About My BRYC House” to build interest at events. Those same volunteers could distribute hand-held cardboard fans with information about the organization — essentially miniature billboards — that would help festival-goers or sports fans cool off in the Louisiana heat.

Team Highland also suggested cultivating media relationships and building a “communication toolbox” with talking points, infographics, newsletters and social media content to more efficiently spread the word about the organization’s mission and work. The team reached out to local media outlets to begin building relationships on behalf of BRYC – and several outlets are awaiting BRYC’s call. Team Highland also proposed creating a signature event such as a fishing tournament, softball tournament, 5K run or community cookoff to raise money and awareness for the organization. Finally, they suggested developing working partnerships with key stakeholders in the community such as chambers of commerce, school districts and charitable foundations.

Team Perkins based its presentation on an organizational analysis, including a SWOT assessment (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), and provided a detailed financial breakdown of their fundraising proposals.

The team suggested creating a fundraising program called “Bricks for BRYC” that would allow individuals and corporations to sponsor at a certain level. BRYC place the sponsored brick with the donor’s name in one of their walls in their educational facility near downtown Baton Rouge. Brick sponsors would also receive a physical brick with the nonprofit’s logo on it that they could display in their office.

The funds raised through the brick initiative would go towards purchasing a van, or perhaps multiple vehicles, to transport students to the organization’s facility. Lack of transportation was cited as a challenge for BRYC during the preliminary meetings with the team members and organizational leadership. Students who can’t make it to the BRYC facility can’t access its staff and services, but providing transportation takes considerable resources.

Finally, Team Perkins proposed an event called the Red Brick Runway Experience, a talent and fashion show that would involve BRYC fellows and alumni as well as members of the community. The annual event, for which the group provided a detailed financial breakdown, would serve as a fundraiser while also spreading the word about the organization’s work throughout Baton Rouge. “It would create a buzz in the community and position the fellows to showcase their talents,” says team member Roger Arvie Jr of the Office of Public Health.

Both team plans provided detailed and practical solutions for BRYC to consider, and each team did an effective job presenting those ideas. Leigh Phillips, Director of Development and Communication for BRYC, says having groups of outside professionals brainstorming ideas and invested in the mission of the community organization is encouraging and invaluable. “We do this every day, try to be creative, but the fact that so many other people in the city and the state believe in what we do and think it’s worthy means a lot,” she says. “It’s really energizing.”

At Success Labs, we feel strongly that leadership goes beyond leading within our own organizations — and that making an impact in our community by sharing our skills and knowledge is what true leadership is all about.

The Leadership Coaching Series is a development program for talented leaders who are in line to take on higher-level leadership roles at your organization. Participants leave with an understanding of the competencies they’ll need as they take the next steps in their careers and action plans to help develop those competencies. The ideal candidate is a successful manager who was recently promoted or is being considered for promotion to a higher-level leadership role.

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