20th Annual Grant Award & Virtual Fundraising Event

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About the Annual Program

Started in 2002 as a component of the Capital Region Community Foundation, the Uplift Our Youth Fund has awarded more than $180,000 in grants to several community-based organizations/agencies that have been able to provide programs that benefit youth.

From the beginning, the Uplift Our Youth Fund – and now the Uplift Our Youth Foundation – has benefitted from the support of many community leaders in the Lansing area. Our Board of Directors represents a cross-section of our community, including business, academia, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The Annual Program that is hosted every year is a special time where we celebrate those organizations/agencies in our communities that focus on making an impact on our youth as well as award Grants to some of those organizations as well.

20th Annual Grant Award & Virtual Fundraising Event

Thursday, October 13th, 2022 at 7:00pm

Legacy Award Honoree

Ernie Boone, Sr.


Born March 10, 1942, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ernie Boone has been
actively involved in the Lansing human rights struggle since his graduation
from Michigan State University in 1964. Upon graduation from MSU, Ernie
began work as a sports reporter for the Lansing State Journal.When he found
that Black students were virtually absent from the journalism program at
Sexton High School in 1967, he began teaching a journalism class at the
Westside Action Center, a program operated by the Capital Area Community
Action Agency.
In 1969, the class, along with MSU students and a few adults, began
publishing the Westside News, a weekly newspaper aimed at Lansing’s Black
community. When Lansing teachers closed school with a strike in 1970, the
Westside News staff and supporters opened and operated a street school at
the center. When schools opened, students continued to come to the center

for classes and for tutoring, and Ernie organized things and kept the educational activities going.
In 1970 he convinced MSU’s School of journalism to admit five of his journalism class students who did not meet
all of the academic standards required. Three of the students earned degrees. One student left school and joined
the military after completing one year, and one dropped out after completing two years. Many of the students who
worked on the Westside News went on to careers in journalism, while others were successful lawyers, educators,
and other professionals.
Although he worked through many different organizations to serve the mid-Michigan Black and underprivileged
community, his primary interest was in the areas of education and youth betterment programs. Among the
programs he developed and led as a volunteer were the Suspension Alternative Program, working with the school
district providing counseling and classroom instruction to students suspended for fighting and the PAC-MAC
Spelling Bee. He served terms as president of the Sexton PTA, a member of the board of directors of the NAACP,
Capital Area Community Action Agency, and Parent Action Committee for Minority Academic Concerns.
Working as adjunct staff and the director of the Black Child and Family Institute, Ernie led the develop and
recruited volunteers for that agency’s After School tutorial program and Summer Academic Enrichment Program
Ernie’s interest in youth education and sports led to his playing basketball with the teenagers on the playgrounds,
coaching championship basketball and football teams in the YMCA church league and the city recreation leagues,
and his mentoring countless youth.

2022 Youth Advocate

Terrance Cooper

People Ready Activating Youth is a non-profit community outreach
organization that has been serving the city of Lansing since 2015.P.R.A.Y. was
founded and run by Terrance Cooper and Willie Houston with the objective
of empowering the city’s youth. With a mindset of moving to where aid is
most needed, P.R.A.Y. has put on many events since its inception to support
the children of this city. From annual Thanksgiving Turkey giveaways and
Christmas Family Adoptions/Toy Giveaways, to its camps and basketball
tournaments, P.R.A.Y. has used its resources and methods of fundraising to
reach as many kids as possible.
In addition to its own programming, P.R.A.Y. members have also assisted
organizations like Mikey23, the City of Lansing, and Basketball United in
outreach missions. For the last two years, Terrance Cooper has brought
P.R.A.Y. ‘s influence into Everett High School in south Lansing. By working
in the school, Cooper and his coworkers have worked to ensure that the school is a safe place for the students in
attendance. Working proactively to resolve conflicts before they become violent.
Recently, Cooper has also turned to the method of home visits in order not only to further mediate conflicts but
also demonstrate his level of care for the students to the students. Cooper has developed a trusting relationship
between him and the youth he seeks to serve. At the start of Covid-19, P.R.A.Y. has ramped up programming
and outreach to hopefully stem the tide of negative consequences brought about by this threat. Perhaps the
most illustrative example of P.R.A.Y. programming that displays the intentions and methodology that P.R.A.Y.
plans to bring to Advance Peace is the summer camp it hosted this year at Gier Community Center. A three and
a half month-long basketball camp, this program gave youth a safe and exciting place to congregate while also
peering into the minds of its participants to better serve their needs. Primarily focused on the younger kids,
aged 8-12, these interviews and therapeutic exercises yielded profound results. While the specific data collected
is private and protected by confidentiality, the overall takeaways were applied to mold P.R.A.Y.’s actions in the
future. Cooper teamed with a licensed therapist to collect and interpret the data he collected. P.R.A.Y. seeks to
address the root causes of the negative emotions overflowing out of these children believing that this is the key to
reducing gun violence amongst the youth and uplifting them to be leaders of the community.

2022 Spotlight On Excellence

Benjamin G. Brown

Okemos High School

Benjamin G. Brown is a Senior at Okemos High School while dually enrolled in The Early College at Lansing Community College. He will graduate from The Early College in 2023 with a concentration in welding and metallurgy.


Benjamin has made significant contributions to his community by being involved in Action Okemos where each week he would select different events to actively participate. Some events included tutoring students at the local elementary, volunteering to help at elderly homes, and participating as staff for local runs/walks and marathons. Benjamin has also volunteered as an “escort” at Sparrow Hospital, assisting patients as they finish their recovery and depart from the facility. As a Mentee at The Turning Point of Lansing, Brown has shown leadership skills by influencing the younger Mentees through engagement with the Elders or adult Mentors. He has also assisted in providing food to the elderly and shut-ins via a program entitled “The Mobile Food Pantry” with the Lansing Area Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Through his involvement with contractor Mike McKissic’s “Mikey 23 Foundation,” Benjamin has been able to aid in the process of restoring damaged or abandoned houses set to be demolished by the Lansing City Government Offices. Just this last year, Benjamin received the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Citizenship Award from The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is also a proud member or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (a.k.a. NAACP). When not attending school Benjamin has been dedicated in his extracurricular activities as well. In 2020, he achieved the status of third-degree black belt in taekwondo. His other recreational pursuits have been musical by learning to play piano and being a viola-playing member of the Okemos High School Orchestra.

David Ferguson

East Lansing High School

David Ferguson is a phenomenal student-athlete, an excellent role model for youth, and an active community member devoted to serving and learning from others. He has been recognized multiple times in the Lansing State Journal newspaper. Recently, for winning a distinguished award for his essay reflecting upon the moral climate of society in the MLK Greater Lansing Scholarship competition. And two additional times for earning cross-country All-Area in the state of Michigan, both in 2020 and 2021. He is an established leader in his community and uses his charisma to influence and inspire all of his peers. In addition to multiple leadership roles in the Greater Lansing Chapter of Jack and Jill of America and participation in various clubs, including the Christian Student Union and Environmental Club, David has participated in community social activities. In 2020, David was one of the 1000 young protesters who joined the NAACP Lansing Chapter efforts to draw attention to police brutality and unlawful vigilantes that have ended Black lives. He earned a 3.51 GPA, with AP Courses at East Lansing High School, and is currently enrolled in AP Statistics his senior year. To add, David is an avid and talented music producer. He has composed instrumentals for multiple artists, small podcasts, and organizations like his local church. His mother owns a cosmetic jewelry business, and he is the manager, web designer, marketer, and information/business analyst for her.

David has gained invaluable back-end insight into running a business by creating numerous flyers, advertisements, apps, spreadsheets, and data models. He strives to establish an institution that teaches youth skills, including business, music production, communication, financial literacy, and computer programming so that people like him can become attractive citizens for employers.

Kianna Tucker

Okemos High School

Kianna Tucker is a Senior at Okemos High School. She is a known as a leader amongst her

peers, demonstrating a kind and gentle demeanor. She has actively participated in a program called, “Connect”, welcoming, guiding, and mentoring Freshmen. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. Kianna has a philanthropic spirit; modeling this through her participation in vast amounts of community service since her middle school years. She has been able to feed that spirit via various community service activities sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, Lansing/East Lansing Links, Incorporated, & “It’s a Breast Thing”, a local breast cancer non-profit organization among others. Kianna is a proud member of the Lansing Branch of the NAACP. She has participated in HOSA, a club for students with interest

in the medical field. She has also participated in Health Science Scholar Institute (HSSI); Michigan State University-sponsored program, for several years. She has a plan to pursue a career in criminal justice and forensic science. She has also chosen to spend some of her free time at Sparrow Hospital investigating the field in more detail. Kianna has participated in Track and Field for her 4-year high school tenure. She has been selected to be Team Captain for the last 2 years and is actively serving in this capacity. Kianna is an example of a scholar-athlete with Dedication, commitment, initiative, and determination.

Past Award Recipients


Big Brother ,Big Sister, Michigan Capital Region, Increasing School-based matches – $5,000

Capital Area United Way, College Access Network, FAFSA Flocked 2022 – $3000

Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center., Art Encounters – $4000

Les Meres et’ Debutantes Club of Greater Lansing Alumni Association , Health and Wellness – $2500


Grit Glam and Guts Programming – $2,000

Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center/Art Encounters – $2,000

Carol Greer Learning Center/School Support Program – $2,000

Building Child And Family Initiatives Stem Ahead Camp – $2,000

Capital United Way Capital Area Access Network/FAFSA Flocked – $2,000


Michigan Dyslexia Institute – $2,500

Kids Turning Corners – $2,500

Kids Repair Program – $1,500

Building Child And Family Initiatives – $2,500

Womens Center Of Greater Lansing – $2,500

Lansing Art Gallery And Education Center – $3,000

Lansing Spartans Youth Org. – $500


Kids Turning Corners, Inc. – $2,500

Building Child & Family Initiatives – $2,250

Capital Area Literacy Coalition – $2,000

Churches of Greater Lansing – $2,500

Lansing Art Gallery, Inc – $1000

Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $1,500

The Turning Point of Lansing – $2,250

St. Stephens Church Carol Greer Community
Learning Center – $1,000


Kids Turning Corners, Inc – $2000

Building Child & Family Initiatives – $1500

Village Summit – $2500

Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence – $2000

Eastside Community Center – $2000

Lansing Art Gallery, Inc – $1000

Gridiron Summer Institute – $1000


Building Child & Family Initiatives – $2,000

Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $2,000

Eastside Community Action Center – $1,600

Kids Repair Program – $1,400

The Carol J. Greer Community Center – $3,000


Boys & Girls Club of Lansing – $2,000

Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. – $2,500

Kids Repair Program – $1,200

Kendon Elementary School – $2,000

New Mount Calvary Baptist Church – $2,300


Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $1,400

Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. – $1,000

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan – $1,400

ITEC – $1,000

Kids Repair Program – $1,200

Lansing Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation, Inc. – $2,000

St Stephen’s Community Church – $2,000


Kids Repair Program – $1,000

St. Stephen’s Community Church – $1,000

The Turning Point of Lansing – $2,500

Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. – $500

Highfields, Inc. – $2,500

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Epsilon Tau Sigma – $2,000


Lansing College Access Network – $1,000

Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $1,000

Southside Community Coalition – $1,000

The Turning Point of Lansing – $1,500

Kids Repair Program – $750

New Mount Calvary Baptist Church – $1,000

Reach Studio Art Center – $750

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan – $1,000

Capital Area Literacy Coalition – $1,000

Northwest Lansing Health Communities Initiative – $1,000 


St. Stephen’s Community Church – $1,200

Highfields, Inc. – $1,200

Dream and Vision Manifested – $1,000

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity – $1,500

Black Child & Family Institute – $2,000

Boys and Girls Clubs of Lansing – $2,000

Eastside Community Action Center – $1,100 


Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $1,500

D.A.N.C.E, Inc.

(Developing & Nurturing Community Empowerment) – $1,800

Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region – $1,000

Eastside Community Action Center – $1,200

Closing the Digital Gap – $500 Black Child & Family Institute – $2,000

Capital Area Golf for Youth, Inc. – $1,000

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity ETS Chapter Educational Fund – $1,000 


Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity ETS Chapter Educational Fund – $1,500

St. Stephen’s Community Church – Community Outreach Center – $1,500

Antioch Cares Community Development Corp. – $500

Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region – $1,000

The Turning Point Lansing – $1,500

Lansing Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation – $1,500

Northwest Initiative – $1,500

Black Child & Family Institute – $1,500

Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $500

Worship Without Words – $1,500


Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center – $1,500

Worship Without Words – $2,000

Antioch Cares Community Development Corp. – $1,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region – $1,500

Ele’s Place – $1,500

Boys & Girls Club of Lansing – $2,500


Black Child & Family Institute – $3,500

MI Foundation for Education Leadership – $1,000

Inspirational Ministries – $1,500

Gateway Community Services – $2,000.00

Westside YMCA – $2,000.00