MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For The Kingdom is celebrating being one of the newest recipients of the NBA Foundation Grant, which will aid in its mission to bring resources, opportunities, and positivity to Raleigh residents. 

Summerjoy Scott runs the Lead Academy at For The Kingdom, which offers paid apprenticeship programs for teens ages 16 to 19 in a number of areas including culinary, agriculture, barbering, and multimedia production.  

“We’re trying to truly affect change and be proactive and get our hands on young people, young adults, allowing them to pick a career they’re interested in,” she said.

Thanks to a grant from the NBA Foundation, Scott hopes the sound of opportunity will be heard far and wide for teens in Raleigh.

“What we hope to provide is access, simply put. Economic access, opportunity access, mental therapy access, so access is our biggest thing for our young people,” Scott said. “We bring in industry professionals, where they get actual exposure, face value, and be able to see other people that essentially look like them and don’t look like them and see, ‘you can do this too.'”

The program began back in 2019 and two groups were able to successfully complete the program before the pandemic temporarily shut it down. Now, they’re ready to bring it back bigger and better than ever. 

She said the idea is to help set students on a positive path at a young age so they know what they’re capable of, and they’re confident in it. 

“A lot of these opportunities really only come when you get to college when you start talking about internships and things like that. And unfortunately, a lot of our students in Raleigh and Frayser probably aren’t going to go to college,” Scott said. “They’re going to graduate hopefully, and then they’re going to try to get a job or try to make ends meet in other ways, with crime and things like that. So it’s important for us to give access because it broadens their horizons.”

Summerjoy speaks from experience. She completed a similar program in Atlanta when she was in high school. 

“It has been able to give me another viewpoint on life, and know that there are other possibilities in life. And that’s why it’s important for us to broaden their horizon and give them access,” she said.

The LEAD Academy will be accepting 15 to 20 applicants for their April cohort and will have another group beginning in August. You can apply here.