Project SLE (Student Leaders in Education)

Community-based organization for students, by students, that offers intramural sports, art programs, Maker Spaces, and more.

Photo of Abigail
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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

May 5, 2002.

Help us stay in touch!

Phone: (410)903-3344 Address: 1187 Annis Squam Hbr Pasadena MD 21122

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

As a senior in high school, I've noticed that a huge issue in communities, across socio-economic and racial barriers, is apathy. Students feel disconnected from others, uninvested in their futures, and helpless against the large-scale problems of today's society. Addressing this issue is vital to the mental and emotional health of students today, as well as empowering them to be the next generation of leaders and changemakers shaping the future.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

One way to fight this is to create safe places for students to connect with others, offer support in planning for their futures, and allowing them to become leaders in their community. Creating community centers that are specifically focused on kids who are in middle and high school allows us to empower students from a young age that no matter how young they are, they can enact change in their own communities. I want to start in my own community, and based upon the success of the program, to expand to other cities and regions, both urban and rural, to provide a wide support network for kids aged 13-18. By my high school is an abandoned grocery store, which sits as a target for vandalism. I'd like to transform that empty space into a modern community center, which includes a local community garden, a Maker Space to foster interest in STEM, an intramural sports area, computers for after-school homework and tutoring help, and of comfortable chairs and couches to create a hangout spot for kids who don't feel safe at home. This community center would host a variety of activities and classes, but focus on fostering a sense of community and academic support.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

As a senior in high school, I was very lucky to meet a few teachers throughout high school who took me under their wing and mentored me. They pushed me to become a better student, encouraged me to take on leadership roles, and most importantly, allowed me to believe in myself. Their classrooms were always open if I needed to talk about something personal, or just a safe place to let my guard down. Little gestures like those, which showed how invested they were in their students, meant a lot to me. It meant everything that I had people who believed in me. I believe every student deserves to have the same experience: to be connected to a set of mentors who will invest in them not only as a student, but as a person, and take the time to get to know them and encourage them on a very personal level, as well as to be offered a safe place where they know that they can be themselves.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

When did you know that you could make a difference? For me, it was when one of my teachers sat down and told me I could change the world. Right now, our generation faces apathy, hopelessness, and cynicism. We need community organizations for students, by students, to create safe places to develop relationships with peers, explore personal interests, connect with mentors, and get academic support. I am stepping up to make a change because I want to make a difference in my own community.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

I have many friends who do not feel safe or supported at home and, as a coping mechanism, are at-risk of being reduced to one of the numbers lost to the opioid epidemic or heroin crisis. But their story could be reimagined. If they have the resources available that Project SLE offers, they would have a safe place to hang out after school. Through the programs of Project SLE, they can learn healthy coping mechanisms, recieve personal counseling, and find a community where they feel valued and accepted. Suddenly, a future doesn't seem so impossible. Project SLE gives kids the resources they need to succeed post-high school through help applying to internships and scholarships, hands-on leadership experience, and mentors at a vital point in students' lives. And at its heart, it encourages kids to realize their own potential. Suddenly, the future doesn't seem so hopeless anymore.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Project SLE focuses on creating an environment focused on teenagers, unlike organizations like the Boys' and Girls' Club of America, and the transition from middle to high school and navigating the challenges and stressors of high school. My vision is to have Project SLE run by students, for students, meaning that the programs will have greater appeal to their target audience. The approach for Project SLE is also unique in its holistic approach to wellness: encouraging creative expression, athletic ability, academic success, and giving back to the community.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Project SLE will measure its success based upon involvement in its after-school programs, attendance at hosted community events, service hours completed, and scholarship money that students have received. But, we also acknowledge that one's success cannot be measured in numbers alone. Instead, we look to keep in touch with alumni to receive personal feedback and stories about how the programs have affected their life.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

If Project SLE becomes a success in the local community, in the next few years we would hope to move into other regions of the country, including urban environments, partnering pre-existing community organizations who already have a local reputations with Project SLE's mission and resources to have the most powerful impact in the lives of kids across America. More specifically, we would like to launch projects in Baltimore, DC, and the greater DMV area. In addition, we would love to launch a Green Campaign, which educates students on the importance of healthy eating and gives urban populations access to fresh greens though hydroponic systems.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Program Design

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Gia Mar Ramos

Your initiative is very creative. Teenagers need spaces to meet other young people and establish friendly relationships.

Photo of Abigail

Thanks so much!