While some instructors complained of students in the Class of 2020 tuning out, not showing up or completing assignments for distance learning classes during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of local youth are being lauded for handling their “business.”

Participants in the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce’s (SBCC) Young Leadership Collaborative (YLC) will graduate in June after completing a seven-course program designed to increase the number of young people of color interested in becoming future business leaders. YLC helps youth ages 16-23 develop the necessary skills to succeed through personal finance training, exploration into the world of entrepreneurship, business mentorships, and scholarships.

The ultimate goal is to increase the number of youth who can develop the economic capacities to succeed in creating and maintaining their own wealth. Workshops topics include interviewing skills, financial literacy, credit management, investment strategies, and branding.

Guest speakers, mentors and field trips provide further career exploration. Area entrepreneurs have opened their doors to show how they do business. In 2019 the SBCC took YLC program participants, referred to as fellows, to Africa to demonstrate solar power to students in Tanzania with the help of SMUD, one of its sponsors. Participants have gone on to attend universities across the country, eyeing careers in fields ranging from law and accounting to business and technology.

The program was formerly known as the Young Entrepreneur’s Academy, or YEA, until three years ago. “The cohort at that time did a logic study to tell us what was working, what was not and how we could enhance the program,” said SBCC President and CEO Azizza Davis-Goines.

“We took all of their advice, namely expanding the study to include areas in leadership. Thus, the name changed to the Young Leadership Collaborative. While finance and fiscal responsibility remain a pillar of the program, leadership is equally important to the students and so, much time is spent focusing on that career path as well,” Ms. Davis-Goines continued.

The program is in its 11th cohort cycle. It’s one participants won’t soon forget as they completed the program despite the coronavirus pandemic and shelter-in-place mandates. Students adapted to sessions online instead of being face-to-face and remained fully engaged.

Graduating fellows are Nevaeh Austin, a sophomore at Sacramento Charter High School who plans to study medicine at an HBCU en route to becoming a nurse practitioner and starting her own business; Nailah DuBose, a junior at Rex & Margaret Fortune Early College High School, who plans to attend a four-year college majoring in biology in pursuit of a career as a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon; Faith Mucheru, a junior at Christian Brothers High School, who plans to attend either the University of San Francisco, UC Irvine or San Jose State University and become a forensic scientist; Ehigie Osunde, who currently attends Cosumnes River College (CRC), pursuing an associate degree in electrical engineering and plans to transfer to a four-year school and become a leader in business in his community; and Serenity Your, a sophomore at CRC, who is studying business administration with the ultimate goal of becoming a sports and entertainment lawyer with her own firm.

YLC graduates Jadi Howard, Jordan Spears and Madison Lozada now serve as mentors for YLC fellows. Madison Lozada will speak at this year’s graduation.

The YLC graduation will be held on Monday, June 15 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. It will take place at the SBCC headquarters, but due to social distancing orders, guests will not be allowed inside. The event will be live streamed. Mellonie Richardson, Chair of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will deliver the keynote address. Madison Lozada, co-facilitator will also speak.

Sponsors include SMUD, Wells Fargo, PG&E, SAFE Credit Union, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Los Rios Community College District, Regional Transit and Sacramento State University.

For more information, visit www.sacblackchamber.org.

By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer