Our Mercy schools are passionate in their commitment to “nurture highly competent and deeply compassionate leaders ready to serve a vulnerable world” (MESA Mission Statement). The Lead4Change Student Leadership Program, a curriculum for grades 6-12 with a service learning framework, is one organization with whom several Mercy schools have partnered to give their students the tools and experience they need to lead with mercy.
What is Lead4Change?
Lead4Change Student Leadership Program gives students the opportunity to lead, create and implement team projects designed to meet a need in their school, local or global community. During the program, students acquire and practice important leadership skills as they complete a series of lessons. Students also have the option to compete for grants to benefit the program or organization with whom they have partnered for the project. Learn more on the Lead4Change website. Once you register on the site, you can access the lessons. The program is fully funded and free for users; there is no commitment to participate after registration, and a school can use all or a portion of the resources available.
Social Justice Leadership at Mercy Academy
Mercy Academy (Louisville, Kentucky) has engaged students with Lead4Change for 7 years, earning $32,500 in grants during that time. Traditionally the Lead4Change curriculum is used as part of the required Social Justice Leadership senior theology course for students to collaboratively develop and implement an action plan focused on the Mercy Critical Concerns, though COVID-19 necessitated a shift to individual projects this year.
Kari Sims, Director of Service Learning and Leadership at Mercy Academy, said they have successfully used the program with a service club, senior social justice classes and freshman community building. “The lessons are versatile enough that they can be adapted for any group or class setting,” she said. “One of my favorite aspects is the reflection that is built into every stage. It truly helps students understand the importance of working collaboratively when striving to make a positive change in the world.”
L.E.A.D. at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School
In 2019, Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School (Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania), launched L.E.A.D. (Learn, Educate, Achieve, Develop), a student program to “educate and empower young women to become ethical, courageous leaders of action and conviction” (L.E.A.D. Mission Statement). Part of this program involved leadership certification for students through Lead4Change. Last spring, two teams of students earned certification through Lead4Change and successfully earned $1,000 each in grants to help fund their projects: a daylong conference focused on student leadership and a series of town hall meetings called Mercy Speaks. Jennifer Guarnaccia, who oversees L.E.A.D., said the students “have developed a passion for the program. Lead4Change gives them a new outlet to take initiative and effect real change.” This year, Gwynedd Mercy plans to certify the entire sophomore class through Lead4Change as the first step towards their senior capstone project.
Leadership initiatives at Gwynedd Mercy were recently highlighted in Suburban Life magazine.