Youth Education and Leadership


The Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development engages the greater Madison area to empower African American individuals, families and communities to bring about hope, transformation and justice.

The Need

Far too many African American children are failing to enter school on the same footing as children from majority culture families. While the reasons for this are myriad and complex, there is an opportunity gap that exists for these children from their first day of school. The 2013 Race to Equity Report brought into public awareness the wide disparity gap that exists between how well Madison schools work for majority culture children and how poorly these same schools work for African American children.

Youth Empowerment & Leadership Development Programs

ACE (Academic Center for Excellence) develops the academic talents, leadership skills and character of elementary age children. Through year-round programming we build lasting relationships with the children and their families and we foster academic, emotional, social and spiritual growth.

MID (My IDentity) is our program to develop leadership skills in middle school students. Many of these participants serve as “Junior Coaches” in the summer ACE program.

BROTHER (Building Real Opportunities That Help Everyone Rise) is Nehemiah’s strategic program reaching African American middle school boys, guiding them to a productive, healthy manhood. BROTHER’s year-round programming combines the power of a same race mentor with a robust active learning strategy centered on topics such as racial identity, character and working toward successful futures.

LIGHT (Learning Is our Greatest Hope for Tomorrow) reaches out to high school students to support them as they pursue graduating from high school and going on to family supporting jobs or college. Through building trust and providing academic support we empower young men and women to achieve their goals and dreams.

Madison Inspirational Youth Choir is a youth gospel choir that works to spread the message of “hope, strength and the power to overcome.” Participants develop discipline, skills and teamwork as they work via the arts. They also focus on being a safe community for one another where they can grow in character and leadership.

2015 Youth Program Impact

Since Nehemiah began, hundreds of children have participated in our programs and as a result they have:

  • Improved their school attendance and grades
  • Increased their social competency
  • Grown in their self-management skills
  • Engaged the community through the arts
  • Taken on leadership responsibilities
  • Developed a positive racial identity
  • Grown in their understanding of God’s love for them
  • Become resilient contributing citizens of Madison

Youth Empowerment & Leadership Development Vision

In 2016 we look forward to increasing the number of youth we can serve in all of our programs! In addition we hope to add several part-time administrative staff who can support our Youth program Directors.

Youth Program Directors

Ozanne Anderson is Director of the ACE and MID. Ozanne is a state certified Early Childhood Education Director and she has over 20 years of experience working with children and supporting the involvement of parents in their children’s education.

Anthony Ward is Director of BROTHER. Anthony is a former Madison police officer and accomplished musical artist who has worked with youth for over 15 years. Anthony understands firsthand what it takes to promote success among African American boys and young men.

Julie Saffold & Jasmine Zapata M.D. are the dynamic mother/daughter leadership team for the Madison Inspirational Youth Choir. Julie is a gifted teacher, energetic leader and much sought after choir director. Jasmine is a singer, songwriter, musician and a pediatrician.