In a world that is more connected than ever, the Tallahassee chapter of The Links, Incorporated, works to be a strong and vibrant part of a long chain of youth services.
Focused on delivering mentoring and enrichment programs in five distinct areas of work, the women of The Links are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.
The Tallahassee chapter of The Links is one of nine organizations being recognized with a $2,000 grant for their work by the Beatitude Foundation and #GiveTLH, a community effort underwritten by philanthropist and businessman Rick Kearney.
Originally established over 60 years ago by a group of African American women in Philadelphia, the nonprofit organization has grown to represent more than 16,000 professional women connected through the values of friendship, integrity, honesty, service, commitment, family relationships, courage, respect for self and others, legacy, confidentiality, responsibility, and accountability. Now, they put their business acumen, professional networks, and leadership skills to use carving am award-winning path for generations to come.
Tallahassee is home to the first Florida chapter of The Links, established in 1951 by charter members Mrs. Hilda Foote in collaboration with Mrs. Pearl Gore, on the campus of Florida A&M University. Guided by five facets — Services to Youth, The Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services — the organization strives to provide “intentional leadership, leading with a servant’s heart.”
Chapter President Alexis McMillian said, “we were fortunate enough to blossom quickly, from a single bookcase located in the FAMU hospital to what we are today.”
That includes over $50,000 in college scholarships; creation of programs that showcase careers in STEM professions, the arts, and healthcare; mentoring and hands-on experience in entrepreneurship; and life skills including leadership, etiquette, and character development.
One of The Links’ most dynamic programs is the Beautillion, created to engage 12th grade young men of diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Participants are selected through a process that begins with the nomination of young men who have demonstrated achievement in academics, sports, the arts, community service, faith development, or leadership. Nominees must also be of good standing in school, on track for graduation, and have plans for postsecondary education.
“It starts at the Green Coat Ceremony,” shares McMillan. “The Beaux then have the opportunity to be mentored and learn from business and professional leaders, go on college tours, and explore potential career paths.”
The Links have a strong commitment to the arts, offering the Links Arts Academy, which provides opportunities for exposure and participation in the visual arts for economically disadvantaged minority students starting in middle school. “The students meet professional artists and learn about careers in the arts,” McMillan explains. Through field trips to museums, art instruction, and dinners with local artists, The Links strive to broaden the horizons of the youth they serve.
“The grant we have received from The Beatitude Foundation will help us expand these programs and our education in health and human services,” says McMillan. In this way, The Links hope to support habits of good health, elimination of chronic health disparities in communities of color, and increase the education, health advocacy, and use of health resources in the community.
With The Links at work in Tallahassee, our youth are connected to the tools, resources, and people who can help them create strong professional lives that give back. Will you be part of what makes them a strong link?
The #GiveTLH series will culminate in November with a chance for Tallahassee readers to vote for their favorite profiled nonprofit. In addition to a micro-grant for each featured organization, the top three vote-getting organizations will receive a $10,000, $5,000 and $2,000 grant from the Beatitude Foundation. The stories will be compiled on give.tallahassee.com.
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#GiveTLH, underwritten by the Beatitude Foundation and Rick Kearney, is a look at nine nonprofits in our community and how you can help them in their life-changing work. At the conclusion of this series, Kearney will award grants to the nonprofit that gets the most votes in an online poll. For more profiles, visit give.tallahassee.com.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: #GiveTLH 2020: The Links leads the way in arts, youth mentorship