Teaching youth

By Jennifer Whytock

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Lightner Fund is hosting its second-annual banquet on Nov. 18 to raise money for its new youth leadership program.

Created in 2002 to honor the late Clarence E. Lightner, a former Raleigh mayor, the fund last summer launched the first class for Wake County students.

“We’re trying to create a new generation of philanthropists, and teach them that you don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist, you can give your time and get involved,” says Vince Bayyan, managing program coordinator.

The group of 38 students in grades six to 10 spent their first week at a leadership-development camp, learning about financial literacy, problem-solving, philanthropy, public speaking, and new activities like horseback riding and hiking.

A new class of students will begin each summer, with the older students eventually mentoring younger students.

Students continue leadership training until they graduate from high school, by spending one Saturday morning a month at N.C. State University learning study skills, doing personality assessments, and hearing guest speakers.

Coming from different races and socio-economic backgrounds, the students are chosen for their potential leadership abilities, not necessarily for their academic achievements.

The program is free, although parents who can afford $150 to help cover the partial cost of camp are encouraged to pay.

As part of their training, students are highlighting serious issues they face in their communities, and helping to design philanthropic projects.

For the holidays this year, for example, students plan to run a drive to bring books to foster children, and spend time with them through a “reading buddy” program.

The Lightner Fund expects about 300 guests at the banquet, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Capital Center in Raleigh and includes a keynote speech by James H. Goodnight, CEO of Cary-based software company SAS Institute.

For information, call 919.833.9373.

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