Inspiring the next generation of Black leaders

A new program being led by the Black Cultural Center (BCC) at the University of Utah seeks to nurture and inspire the next generation of Black leaders through a yearlong academic leadership bootcamp.

Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (Students United to Create Cultural and Educational Success Stories), powered by the George Floyd Memorial Fund, is a competitive, application-based program which will provide selected follows with effective problem-solving and leadership skills through catered skill building sessions and work experience as a BCC ambassador.

“What many of us knew and more of us learned in the wake of George Floyd’s murder is that organizations and systems not only failed George Floyd but are and have been failing Black Americans and Black students,” said Meligha Garfield, director of the BCC. “By preparing Black leaders with valuable skills and knowledge of operating within a predominantly white institution like the U, these students will be better equipped to change organizations to be more equitable and ensure they don’t fail Black people anymore.”

The George Floyd Memorial Fund was created to support programs like this that are committed to advancing the interests of the next generation of aspiring Black leaders. Students in Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will learn organizational design from the top and explore ways to change it.

Each cohort will include four students—two undergraduates and two graduate students. To apply, students must be a sophomore, junior, senior, master’s or doctoral student when the program starts in the fall. The Black Advisory Committee at the U will be tasked with reviewing and selecting applicants.

Fellows in Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will be expected to attend monthly skill building sessions, work as a BCC ambassador for 10 hours each week and complete a project proposal of a program which addresses a larger challenge within the campus, local, national or global community.

“The reason for a project proposal is for students to learn a more holistic approach to leadership,” said Garfield. “We often position leadership as a title or a designation when leadership is much more complex than that. Leadership is about a combination of skill sets that is used to accomplish goals, creating impact, influence and inspiration. With their project proposals, we want students to walk away from the program identifying the key components of program development and leadership framework so they can be holistic in communicating and demonstrating leadership both professionally and ethically.”

Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S., and its continued growth, will depend on generous financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations supporting the George Floyd Memorial Fund. To donate,  visit UGive – George Floyd Memorial Fund or contact Lindsay Nelson at lindsay.nelson@admin.utah.edu.

“We appreciate the generosity of so many who supported the George Floyd Memorial Fund this past year and provided this outstanding opportunity for Black student leaders at the University of Utah. We honor their commitment to racial and social justice,” said Garfield.