This time of year, many parents strive to find summer programs or adventures to keep their children occupied during their long summer vacation. Families with older children, have the opportunity to pursue summer employment for youth. Additionally, there are an underserved percentage of young people who want to work in certain environments but are simply not old enough. Now, Gabrielle Jordan and her mother, Marcella Mollon-Williams have taken effective action in the nonprofit world to fill in the gaps created by factors such as these.
On June 21, 2019, Jordan and Mollon-Williams hosted the first awards gala to recognize the year-round excellence of adults and young people who are entrepreneurs, advocates, change-makers and trailblazers. Hundreds of people of all ages gathered at University of Maryland in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center for the official launch of the ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute’s (ExCEL) inaugural event.
The ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute ™ is a division of Sound of Nations, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, a youth-based mentoring program that provides mentorship opportunities and educational resources to develop creativity, interpersonal skills, leadership, and entrepreneurial mindsets.
“Two years ago, the vision…. came together to honor outstanding youth, and supporters of youth making an impact on this world despite [limited] expectations of what someone under the age of 18 can do. That vision came to pass, and that was the inception of the ExCEL Honors,” Jordan explained.
Jordan, now 18, is the co-founder of ExCEL. She was once a very young girl who understood her unique value at an early age. She started her jewelry company “Jewelz of Jordan,” when she was nine years old. Her many accomplishments, include: becoming a #1 Amazon best-selling author, sough-after speaker, and TEDx speaker.
“Both, my husband and I had a responsibility to encourage her, and we saw that. And we knew that as many of the parents are here understand, it is truly is our responsibility to not just plant the seeds but to water them,” said Mollon-Williams, also noting the past and potential future challenges of youth attendees.
“Their journey is not very easy. Many of these kids have felt isolated. They’ve been told they’re weird. They’ve been told that they’ll never succeed or that their ideas are dumb. They’ve lost friendships. They’ve been bullied, and they’ve been left feeling alone,” Mollon-Williams said. “So at ExCEL, we created a platform where these young trailblazers not only find the resources and the education they need to thrive in their endeavors, but build a community of like-minded individuals who are eager to support one another.
“Daughters of Destiny” was recognized as the gala’s honored youth organization. Youth and adult honorees included: Haile Thomas; Moziah Bridges; Susannah Wellford; Alana Andrews; Nyanna Harris; Alana Andrews; Gabby Goodwin; Miguel Coppedge; and Jahkil Jackson.
“I’m here to receive the youth change maker award, because of my organization, “Project I Am,” where I build awareness for homelessness [by] providing blessing bags full of toiletry items like soap, tissue, wipes, socks, hand sanitizer, things that help the homeless on a daily basis,” said Jahkil Jackson, 11 who is from Chicago, while explaining his organization’s mission.