By LAKISHA MOLIN
Every child deserves to have opportunities and experiences that help develop them into the future leaders of tomorrow.
As an Indianapolis native, I often reflect on my childhood and the opportunities that were available to me through my community. I was exposed to many organizations that helped shape and guide me into adulthood. From after-school programming to mentorship, there was a wraparound of support, whether it be from my family, peers or acquired mentors.
Throughout this involvement, I can say that one specific takeaway has stuck with me for a large portion of my life. This takeaway serves as my guiding star for what I believe should continuously be true for children throughout Indianapolis — the 10 little two-letter words, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
The power and purpose of this phrase has only grown throughout the years. To me, it puts my dreams into perspective and fuels tremendous energy around them. It has permeated into my role as a mother. It has permeated into the way that I am civically engaged. It has permeated into the personal and professional partnerships I create as I build my career.
As a child, I understood my community involvement and I was able to see how instrumental it was in my growth. But, I never thought about what it took to create those spaces for me and other children. Now as an adult, I understand the amount of intentionality it takes for people to come together across lines of difference to achieve a common goal in order to create lasting impact. There are many organizations in Indianapolis that are not merely discussing what should be, but they are keen about creating what is.
When I reflect on examples of these collaborative efforts, I think of organizations like Center for Leadership Development, Girls Inc. and 100 Black Men that are doing amazing things to provide mentoring, personal and professional development skills. I also am reminded of community organizations such as The Mackida Loveal & Trip Mentoring Outreach Center and The Boys & Girls Club that provide after school programming. Lastly, organizations like Edge 21 that make sure students are aware of financial aid opportunities so that postsecondary education is truly attainable.
An entire community of people must interact positively with children for those children to grow within a safe and healthy environment. This takes a promise within ourselves to do what we can individually to contribute towards the wellbeing of our community.
So, I say all of this to say, “If it is to be, it is up to us.” What can we do, individually and collectively, to ensure that we guide future change-makers along their own journeys while creating a more vibrant and joyful community for us all?
It is up to us.
Lakisha Molin serves as the director of finance and partnerships at Teach For America Indianapolis, an education nonprofit organization that recruits, supports and develops diverse, equity-minded leaders that drive change in our education system, starting in the classroom. Teach For America is working toward increasing student achievement in Indianapolis while advocating for policies and practices that support family and student success.