Youth Education and Leadership

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Nehemiah – Who We Are

There is a need and desire for a stronger Madison for all – therefore we focus on strengthening the African American community. Nehemiah cultivates character, leadership, and economic development for the African American community through culturally grounded programs.

The Need

For decades, we have observed stark racial disparities in a number of educational indicators in the Madison area. To name a few, just over half of African American students graduate from high school in four years, only about 10% of African American 3rd graders read at grade level, and 2/3 of African American students do not take the ACT test required for college entrance. However, disparities in non-academic factors are important as well. African American students are nine times more likely to be suspended compared to white students and 15 times more likely to be expelled for incidents unrelated to weapons or drugs compared to white students.

These gaps lead to a variety of detrimental outcomes that affect these youth and our community. Research shows that a focus on social-emotional, leadership, and positive self-identity skills can impact academic achievement just as much as focus on academic performance. In the face of so many negative statistics, we need to provide supportive and encouraging environments where African American students can thrive.

Youth Education & Enrichment Programs

Nehemiah provides a wide array of culturally competent and relevant programs to meet the needs of K-12 students in the greater Madison area. Areas of focus include: academics, learning readiness, social & emotional learning skills, and leadership development.

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.

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.

Contact Information

For more information, contact our youth program administrative assistant:

Rachael Peterson rpeterson@nehemiah.org 608.257.2453 x233