About Us

Uplift Our Youth Foundation empowers youth to achieve success and live healthy productive lives. We provide funding to smaller and under funded non-profit organizations and programs that directly impact youth in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties.

We provide grants and sponsorship to causes, organizations, and programs that have a primary focus of youth achievement and success with an emphasis on serving “at-promise” youth, diversity inclusion, education, culture, employment and life skills management. Youth are considered up to 18 years old. Our grants are awarded at our Annual Grant Award Reception.

All contributions to Uplift Our Youth Foundation are tax deductible. We highly encourage matching gifts and or additional funding sources.

Our Mission

To uplift youth to reach their full potential and shape their future by giving them opportunity and vision to believe in themselves and succeed in life.

Our Vision

To be a catalyst for Greater Lansing that inspires hope, produces financial support, and impacts youth in such a way, it affects a generation to keep on giving.

Core Values

Understanding – We seek to understand diversity and cultural differences

Passion – Our aim is to be passionate about what we do

Learning – We desire to always be learning

Integrity – Integrity is the foundation of our morals

Faith – We believe that we can and will make an impact

Tenacity – Giving up is not an option

Our History

Uplift Our Youth Foundation a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt non-profit established in 2002 by Founder Larry L. Leatherwood. The Foundation was created under the auspices of the Capital Region Community Foundation (CRCF) through the cooperative efforts of Paulette Granberry Russell and with the support of Patricia Reynolds, who at the time was President of CRCF.

Mr. Leatherwood created Uplift Our Youth Foundation to be a funding vehicle for smaller 501© (3) tax exempt organizations and or agencies that either didn’t receive funding or suffered from insufficient funding in the greater Lansing area.

Click the Board Members name to view their individual bio.

Larry L. Leatherwood, MPA, SEF, Chairperson Emeritus

Larry L. Leatherwood is the founder/chairperson of the Uplift Our Youth Foundation.  The Foundation was created under the auspices of the Capital Region Community Foundation (CRCF) in May, 2002.  Larry stated that the foundation was created through the cooperative efforts of Paulette Granberry Russell and with the support of Patricia Reynolds, who at the time was the President of the CRCF.  Larry further stated that his intent in creating the Foundation (Fund at that time) was to create a funding vehicle for smaller 501© (3) tax exempt organizations/agencies that either didn’t receive funding or insufficient funding in the Lansing tri-county area.  The Foundation was incorporated as a 501© (3) tax exempt organization in November 2005.

Larry is a retired Deputy Director for Administration in the Michigan Department of Transportation and also served as a lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is an executive consultant and is working with multiple clients in business and marketing development, training in ethics, civility, conflict resolution and program evaluation.  Additionally, previously was a Adjunct Consultant with the Michigan Association of School Boards.

He holds a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Public Administration from Western Michigan University.  He has attended Executive Management programs at both Wayne State University and Howard University in Washington, D.C.. He has completed and was awarded Senior Executive Fellows Program recognition from the John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University.

Larry is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions some of which include Who’s Who in Vocational Education, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who among Black Americans.  He also has received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Advocate of the Year, Michigan Public Servant of the Year, Wall of Distinction Western Michigan University, Lansing YMCA President’s Award, Hope Scholars Award, White House Conference on Small Business Recognition, Dr. George James Service Award, Western Michigan University School of Public Affairs and Administration Department, Michigan Legislative Black Caucus “Partners in Community Service” award.  He also received the “Kevin Bibbs” award from the Gentlemen of Distinction, Jack and Jill –Lansing and the Community Service award from the Lansing Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. 2008 Spirit of Scouting Award by Chief Okemos Council of Boy Scouts. 2008 Friend of Youth Award, Lansing Boys and Girls Club. Recipient of the “I have a Dream Legacy Award” 2011 The Urban League of Battle Creek.  2011 Honoree for the Lansing Black Lawyers Association 14th Annual Otis M. Smith Annual Dinner.

Larry has served on many community and state –wide boards and commissions. They included Commissioner, Martin Luther King Commission, City of Lansing, and Past Chairperson Lansing Metropolitan YMCA, past Chairperson Capital Chapter American Society for Public Administration.  He previously served as the Chairperson of Sparrow Specialty Hospital, Executive Committee Capital Area Health Alliances.  He previously served as a Governor’s Appointee to the Michigan Broadband Development Authority, the State Officers Compensation Commission, and the Higher Education Facilities Authority. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and the Alpha Chi Boule’ fraternities. Nominated by former Governor Jennifer Granholm to Ferris State University Board of Trustees. Recently appointed to Delta Township Economic Development Corporation.

He is married to Martha and is the father of Dr. Stacy Leatherwood a physician in Detroit and Jeffrey Leatherwood a video music magazine publisher.

Harold A. Pope, Chairperson
Harold A. Pope is a well-rounded manufacturing professional with over 25 years in the automotive industry. His background includes an international assignment to the Asia Pacific based in
Shanghai, China, Global Quality Director, and various positions in quality, supply chain management, and material, planning, and logistics with Ford and Tier-1 suppliers. Additionally, he is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces serving in the Army. He is a proven leader in corporate, military, and community-based organizations given his diverse assignments, responsibilities, and accomplishments.

Currently, Harold is a Senior Quality Manager at Lear Corporation responsible for the quality performance of several Lear manufacturing sites shipping into multiple customers. He has also served as Division Supplier Quality Manager, responsible for the quality of suppliers shipping into Lear plants from North America.

Harold received his bachelor’s degree and military commission at the University of Dayton. He
believes in the mottos “service is the price we pay to live on this earth” and “everyone can be
great because everyone can serve”. He has always been committed to serving the community and is honored to do so as Chair of the Board of Directors for Uplift Our Youth Foundation. He is also the President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Delta Lambda Chapter (Life Member) and an Elder with The Turning Point of Lansing. Previously, he has served as a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, executive board member of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, and Vice President of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Life
Member), Lansing Branch. He was also the founder of Guardians of Our Future, a male
mentoring program based in Philadelphia, PA which was inspired by the Million Man March.

Born in Mississippi he was raised in Albany, NY, and now resides in Lansing, MI. He and his wife Jennifer have a blended family, 3 sons Courtney, Darrell and Blake, daughter Allison, and 2 grandsons Devin and Blake. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, swimming, and photography.

Fredrick Ford, Vice Chairperson

Fredric Ford is a retired manufacturing professional with an extensive, broad-based background of diversified responsibilities and accomplishments in the automotive industry. He has well established knowledge in business operations areas including information systems facilities management, production operations and public relations.

Ford has a well-established reputation within the General Motors Corporation (GMC) for getting tasks completed with high quality results and has demonstrated that he is a team builder with strong employee development skills. He has thirty (32) years of experience with GMC and has served at the plant level as a material shift leader; a superintendent of manufacturing engineering maintenance; production superintendent of body, trim, paint and chassis assembly; and was also a maintenance supervisor and coordinator of car assembly. He received the GM President’s Award for his outstanding leadership and dedication.

Ford received his Associate Degree at Lansing Community College (LCC) and a Bachelor of Administration Degree at Northwood University. He also completed his electrical apprenticeship (IBEW) at LCC and is licensed by the State of Michigan as a master electrician and an electrical contractor.

Mr. Ford is very active in his community as a deacon at Friendship House Of Prayer Baptist church and currently serves as the Past President of the Holt/South Lansing Rotary Club and prior to 2015 served on the Board of Education for Holt School District for 13 years. He has also served as junior and senior high football coach in both the Lansing and Holt School Districts and is a mentor and motivational speaker for children and youth in the Greater Lansing Area. Mr. Ford is currently employed by Lansing Community College in the Extension & Community Ed Department as a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Coach, Career Jump Start Career (Region 7) Liaison and Job Developer. Mr. Ford is a devoted brother of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Tau Sigma Chapter, Lansing, Michigan

Nettavia D. Curry, PhD, Secretary
Dr. Curry is a native of Detroit, Michigan, but makes Lansing, Michigan her home. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in higher education administration, program development, assessment, and grant writing. She holds a BS and MS in Merchandising Management and Human Resource Management, and a Ph.D. in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, from Michigan State University(MSU). Dr. Curry is knowledgeable about federal TRIO programs and the policies that govern these programs, which serve first-generation, low-income, under-represented students; and students with disabilities. Her professional and academic endeavors focus on student achievement, leadership and professional development, civic engagement, and mentoring for diverse student populations.

During her professional career, she has established liaison relationships with community organizations, institutions of higher education, and professional education associations to develop high-impact academic and social support programs for undergraduate students.Her programmatic and diversity efforts in higher education have been recognized by both MSU and external entities.Coupled with her professional endeavors, Dr. Curry applies her dissertation research in the areas of mentoring, identity development and academic socialization for women and doctoral students of color to her engagement with colleagues and students, and community involvement.

Dr. Curry’s leadership and involvement in the Lansing community reflect her interests in the arts, women’s health, youth development, education, history and culture. Presently, she holds Board appointments at the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, Dream World Studios for the Arts,Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy, and the Uplift Our Youth Foundation, respectively; and is a former Board member of the Riverwalk Theatre. Dr. Curry is a past president of both the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., of Lansing, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Delta Tau Omega Chapter(Lansing).Moreover, she is an active volunteer with the Sparrow Foundation Women Working Wonders (W3) Committee.

Myron Frierson, CPA, Treasurer

Mr. Frierson is a retired state executive. He served as the Director of the Bureau of Finance & Administration for the Michigan Department of Transportation, providing strategic direction for the department’s fiscal management, contracting, and internal administrative service programs. Prior to his current appointment, he served as the Administrator for the Real Estate and Financial Operations Divisions within the Michigan Department of Transportation. A Certified Public Accountant, Mr. Frierson earned his bachelor of arts from Michigan State University. In addition, to serving on the board of Uplift Our Youth Foundation, he is on the board of the Lansing Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation.

Tony Baltimore, Board Member

Bio Coming Soon

Jeffrey A. Brown, D.Min, Board Member

Dr. Brown known for his community building capacity and humanitarian heart has established home and community-based programs for over a decade serving people and youth who are under-served and considered socially and economically disadvantaged.

Dr. Brown has an extensive governmental program development and management expertise. In previous roles, he managed and provided services to the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Services Division, US Social Security Administration, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Community Mental Health, Office on Aging, and Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative.

Recognized for his long term commitment to human and social services, Jeffrey has created platforms in areas of vocational rehabilitation, transitional housing, residential long-term care, life skills management, community living services, self-employment, in-home supports, youth employment, and job readiness programs.

While serving those in need, Jeffrey has a talent for building business and has been a highly sought after consultant and coach to the Who’s Who in the business world. He is an established transformational speaker and co-author of “Life Changing Self Awareness” and author of his latest work “Be Inspired” an inspirational journal available at Amazon.com. In corporate America, Jeffrey has managed projects and operations for some of America’s largest brands such as Radio Shack, Columbia House, Hoover Vacuums, Nutrisystem, Domino’s Pizza, Rug Doctor, and Sharper Image amongst others.

Jeffrey currently serves as Board Member of Uplift Our Youth Foundation and Advisory Board Member of Lansing’s Career Quest Learning Center.

Robert A. Easterly, JD, Board Member

Robert A. Easterly, Esq. is a litigation and business attorney with Foster Swift Collins & Smith, P.C. in Lansing, MI. His business practice focuses on helping startups and small businesses deal with the legal and business issues that arise during a business’ life cycle. His criminal defense experience spans a wide variety of matters, from minor misdemeanors to significant felonies. Drawing from his previous career, Robert has created a niche practice representing college students in criminal and student conduct matters. He has been particularly sought after by international student populations due to his knowledge and expertise in navigating between university policies, court systems and immigration issues. Prior to joining Foster Swift, Robert was a Youth and Family Advocate for Lansing Teen Court, a juvenile justice program that is a part of Child & Family Charities in the Capital Area. Robert also spent several years as a student affairs professional, serving as the Community Outreach Coordinator at Michigan State University, as well as the Coordinator of Intercultural Leadership Initiatives and Student Development within the Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity at Washington State University.

A dedicated member of his community, Robert is an active volunteer in several community organizations. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association; Board Member of Highfields, Inc., member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Treasurer of PBS Education Fund, and a Board Member for the Ingham County Treatment Courts Foundation. Robert is originally from Toledo, Ohio but grew up in southern California and Seattle, Washington before moving to Michigan. He is a graduate of Washington State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and received his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law. Robert is happily married to Dr. Talitha P. Easterly, and they have two sons, Ezra and Immanuel.

John P. Gardner, Board Member

 John P. Gardner is the Director of External and Government Affairs for Comcast’s Heartland Region, leading external affairs operations and the Internet Essentials program in Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky and serving as liaison to local units of governments in central Michigan. He has been in the cable television industry for more than 25 years, holding positions in cable franchising, contracts administration, human resources and government relations.

Gardner earned an Associate’s Degree at Lansing Community College. He is also an alumnus of Michigan State University, earning Masters of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science, degrees.

A life-long resident of the Lansing area, Gardner serves on the boards of Cristo Rey Community Center, Uplift Our Youth Foundation and the Delta Township District Library.

Rita LaMoreaux, Board Member

With a twenty-year history of helping others start their nonprofits, Rita LaMoreaux is the owner of Lacor Consulting, a nonprofit management and administration firm. Previously, Rita was the Government Affairs and Young Agent Specialist for the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents and Administrator of Insuring MI Future. Prior to that she worked at MIRS News Service and Turner-Dodge House in Lansing. Rita has an Associate’s Degree in Humanities from Lansing Community College, a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and a Master’s in Public Administration with a Nonprofit Concentration from Western Michigan University. Giving back to her community is important to Rita. She is on the boards of the Delta-Waverly Rotary Club, Rotary District 6360, Delta Township Historical Society, Lansing Community College Alumni Committee, Capital Area College Access Network and Association of Fundraising Professionals-Capital Region and the Uplift Our Youth Foundation.

Charles L. Moore, CPA, Board Member
Charles L. Moore is a 23-year Certified Public Accountant with Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Adrian College. Where he lettered four years in basketball and held the position of Vice President of the Business Fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi.

Charles L. Moore (C.L.) is the President and Founder of C.L. Moore & Associates, in Downtown Lansing, MI. C.L. Moore & Associates, founded in 1991, is the only Minority accounting firm in the Lansing area. C.L. is committed to the economic revitalization and growth of Lansing, MI.

C.L. Moore, a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, became an Auditor in the Bank and Trust Division of the Michigan Department of Commerce. Thereafter, Mr. Moore was appointed the Internal Auditor for the Lansing School District

C.L. Moore is a member and Keeper of Finance for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., a member of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of Lansing Airport Authority, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, former Board President of Lansing Micro Enterprise, former Board Treasurer of Lansing Franklin Street Housing Co-op, and Trustee and Financial Secretary of Friendship Baptist Church. Mr. Moore was also named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America in 1990.

Chad E. Morgan, Board Member

Mr. Morgan has been elected to our Marketing and Technology Committee (MTC) and works to connect us with the Greater Lansing community, which we consider our home. As the owner of Creative Partner, “Passionate about your small business success,” a Lansing, Michigan based digital marketing agency.

In previous roles, Chad is a proven Business Manager with over ten years of progressive experience in process improvement, operational management, training and development, and client relations. He is versed in utilizing technology to advance organizational objectives and streamline systems to increase workflow capabilities, profit, and customer experience. Mr. Morgan has been noted for team building, achieving high sales goals, setting standards in quality assurance, and adhering to strict compliance regulations, as a result, produced organic growth and millions in revenue.

Tayo M. Moss, PhD, Board Member

Tayo Moss, Ph.D. is the Program Manager of the Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles program for the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. His main interests focus on reducing food deserts in urban and rural areas, as well as affecting policy through health diplomacy. Tayo previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives as a Policy Advisor, in which he advised legislators on challenges affecting a variety of statewide issues such as health insurance and transportation. Before working in the legislature, Tayo has previously gained experience in policy and grantmaking by serving as a Contract and Grant Analyst for Michigan State’s Contract and Grant Administration. Tayo also serves on the Board of Directors for Uplift Our Youth Foundation, which provides grants and sponsorships to empower youth to achieve success and life heathy productive lives. Tayo has a bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Michigan State University.

Betty J. Sanford, MA, LMSW, Board Member

Betty Sanford’s career spans more than 5 decades some in community service counseling in a residential treatment center for girls in Nashville, Tennessee and organizing military families living on the economy in Kaiserslautern, Germany. She discovered early on in her professional career that in her service to others she the happiest. The transition from community service to education came in 1987 at Michigan State University (MSU). There Betty advised, mentored, taught a freshman seminar, and directed SUPER, a summer Bridge Program. During her 27 year tenure at MSU, she has touched the lives of hundreds of students, supported students studying abroad in New Delhi, India, published, and brought national recognition to the University http://tinyurl.com/BettysJourney.

Uplift Our Youth Foundation is an extension of her desire to help shape young people’s aspirations for scholarship and service and for productive leadership with global reach. Mrs. Sandford serve as mentor for FAME (Fostering Academic s, Mentoring Excellence) at MSU and is the founder of “Words have Power”. This group takes a critical look at the perception, depiction, definition, and portrayal of “black/dark” in our language and its implications affecting the self-concept of young people. Betty is happily married for 46 years with two sons.

Spencer J. Simmons, MBA, Board Member
Spencer is originally from Kalamazoo, MI. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan University in 2002, majoring in marketing, accounting,  and general business. In 2017, he completed his master’s degree in business administration from Davenport University. He is an Accounting Manager with the Office of Highway Safety Planning, a division within the Michigan Department of State Police. He has held this position for over four years and has been with this division for almost fifteen years. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated since March 2012. He personally enjoys reading, watching movies, spending time with family and friends, and traveling with his wife Kristen to new places. 

Spencer is a strong advocate for helping to provide a positive influence to our youth. He believes if you’re successful in life; you have a duty to “Pay It Forward” for the next generation. Uplift Our Youth is built on service towards helping the positive development of our future leaders.

Jessie J. Storey-Fry, PhD, Board Member

My name is Dr. Jessie J. Storey-Fry and I am a single mother and Lansing resident of over 40 years. I am a proud alumnus of Kellogg Community College, Western Michigan University and Michigan State University. I have a B.A. in Elementary Education, English and Sociology, an M.A. in Reading Instruction and Curriculum Development, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration , Teacher Supervision and Curriculum Instruction. I am a retired East Lansing Public School Principal, Director of Elementary Education, and Central Office Administrator with over 40 years of teaching and educational administration experience in public schools, including Adjunct Professor at the M.S.U. College of Education. I was the first African American female Principal at Spartan Village and Red Cedar Elementary Schools and the first African American female Central Office Administrator in East Lansing, with over 25 years of administrative service. I have belonged to numerous civic and community organizations and boards. I am a Life member of Delta Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. the Urban League and the NAACP. I am a member of the Elementary and Middle School Retirees Association of Michigan School Principals, and former member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society. I currently serve on the Board of Directors and the past Vice President for the Uplift Our Youth Foundation. One of the highlights of my professional career was the founding and development of the first Professional Development School in the State of Michigan and the country. This was a joint collaboration with the East Lansing Public Schools and the M.S.U. College of Teacher Education and the Taubman Foundation. After retirement, I was hired by the U.S. Department of Education to implement a special “Best Behavior”, and Student Conflict Resolution Program at Dwight Rich Middle School in Lansing, for three years. After that program ended, I was hired by the Lansing School District to tutor and mentor elementary and middle school principals to improve their building administrative skills and work with teachers.

I have received numerous awards and recognition including a nomination for the East Lansing Community Volunteer Crystal Award. As a volunteer over the years, I have worked at Lansing Christian Services, St Vincent Catholic Social Services, and the American Red Cross, as well as served on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was a former mentor for seven Katrina survivors sent to Lansing from Louisiana. Currently I am an active member of Trinity A.M.E. Church, where I am a member of the Mass Choir, the Public Relations Committee, the Stewardess Board, the Women’s Guild, the Women’s Missionary Society, the Trustee Board, the Kitchen Committee, the Laymen’s Organization and the Church Deaconess.

I have a passion for visiting nursing homes and home visitations to the sick and shut-in church members. I love reading, walking and working on my yard, making floral arrangements and spending time with family and friends. As part of my commitment to studying the Bible and developing my own spiritual growth, I have become a faithful member of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). I enjoy helping others become successful in their lives and helping them improve their self-esteem and personal development.

I am the proud mother of one daughter, Dr. Falyne J. Fry, who currently resides in Los Angeles, California and is employed as a Board Certified Psychiatrist and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine Clinic and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science.

William H. Tansil, Board Member

Bio Coming Soon

Brian Whitfield, Board Member

Brian Whitfield has been a Graphic Designer for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MOOT) for 25 years. A lifelong passion for painting, graphics design and Illustration, Brian graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Kendall School of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1985. He acquired a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD in 1991.

After returning to Michigan in 1992, Brian accepted a position at Alma College, Alma Michigan as Adjunct Instructor, teaching Advanced Illustration. In 1993 he taught painting at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has served as Grant Panelist, and Visiting Critic for Alma College Senior Art Show, and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Brian has contributed to over 30 exhibitions of his artwork in the Lansing area, Detroit, Washington D.C., Baltimore Maryland, Chicago, Illinois, and London, England. He also has a permanent piece at Lansing Community College, Arts and Science Building entitled, “Mid-Night, Sunday Morning.” He exhibits yearly at the popular ArtPrize Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In 1988 Brian designed the national 75th Anniversary Logo for Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. He was commissioned in 1992 to produce 35 portraits of past National Presidents and Executive Directors of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., displayed at the headquarters in Chicago, Ill. During the last three years he has created several large murals in the mid-Michigan area.

Brian has received many awards for his work, highlighting a few are: 1984-Designer of the Ingham County Flag; 1991-The Basil H. Alkazzi Award (U.S.A.) a $5,000 Acquisition Award to an American Artist; 2006-Major Contributor in the design of the Michigan’s license Plate; 2013, Winner of the Design of Michigan’s newest plate, “The Mackinaw Bridge,” which was named the Best New Plate, Internationally, by the American License Plate Collectors Association. 2017 Arts Council of Greater Lansing Individual Artist Award.