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 $160,000 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.

19th Annual Grant Award & Virtual Fundraising Event

Thursday, October 14th, 2021 at 7:00pm

Legacy Award Honoree

Wayne Lynn


As a community leader, Wayne Lynn serves tirelessly in several capacities. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Turning Point of Lansing, mentoring program for young men 7-12th grades. As one of the founding Elders of this program in 2001, Wayne has supported growing this program to serve over 1,000 young men of color in the Lansing Community. Today The Turning Point of Lansing serves over 50 young men and their families which facing the challenges of the pandemic. The program has 95% graduation rate and many of the graduates have become great fathers, husbands, professionals, and leaders.

Wayne is also the Chairman of the Deacon’s Ministry at Union Missionary Baptist Church where he also teaches a weekly Community Men’s Bible Study; he has served as the Regional Father’s Auxiliary Chair for Jack & Jill of America, Midwestern Region and he has served on the Board of Directors for the Metro YMCA. He is a training facilitator with his own company, Lynn Innovative Solutions. While living in S.C., Wayne served as a Deacon at Brookland Baptist Church and served as Chairman of the Board Directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and started a community youth enrichment program, Project IMPACT, in his hometown, Hartsville, South Carolina.

As Director of Transmission and Distribution Operations and Engineering for the Lansing Board of Water and Light, Wayne is responsible for the day-today operations of the electric overhead and underground construction, maintenance, and service restoration as well Engineering and Vegetation Management. He has also served as Executive Manager of customer service for Consumers Energy as well as Executive Manager of Electric and Gas Operations. Wayne spent three years at Chicago-based Exelon Corp., where he served as Director of Electric Reliability and Engineering support.

Wayne has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Carolina. He began his professional career with South Carolina Electric and Gas Co., where he served for 13 years in the following various positions: Substation Design and Relay Engineer, Supervisor of Substation Design, Field Engineer of Substation and Transmission Construction and Operations, Manager of Electric Distribution Operations, became manager of electric operations.

Wayne’s has been married for 31 years to the lovely Melanie and has three beautiful daughters, Lauren, Brittney and Chanel all of which are college graduates. 

2021 Youth Advocate

Marian Brooks Bryant

Marian Brooks Bryant is a tireless community volunteer, humanitarian and philanthropist with a passion for helping children and families. These contributions have improved the lives of children and their families in the Greater Lansing area.

Her community service includes serving as the volunteer Executive Director for BCFI (Building Child and Family Initiatives) for the past eleven years. She was instrumental in bringing the dynamic and energetic literacy program, Children’s Defense School Freedom School to BCFI. She has been instrumental in creating their Magic of Reading and Technology after school literacy and technology program and Cool Girls Read Too program (a book club for middle school girls) and the STEAM Ahead summer camp.

She is a member of the Lansing/East Lansing Links, Incorporated creating and working as coordinator for their Young Women for Change (YWFC) program, a mentoring and enrichment program for high school girls which exposes them to community service, philanthropy, career interests and enrichment experiences. Her work with the Young Women for Change program resulted in the program being recognized as an award-winning program by the Links, Incorporated. Annual scholarships were awarded to members of YWFC.

She established the Dr. William C. Bryant Jr. Achiever Scholarship, honoring her late husband. The scholarship is for graduating high school students planning to study for medical science careers and is supported by Sparrow Health System. In excess of ten scholarships have been awarded.

She is a member of St. Stephen’s Community Church and is a tireless worker wherever needed while serving as a Trustee and Treasurer. She also serves in the Covenant Association, United Church of Christ.

She serves on the Sparrow Women’s Board of Managers and has served as treasurer of the Board. She has also served on the Boards of Asset Independence Coalition, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and the Greater Lansing MLK Holiday Commission. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

In her professional life, she served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority which manages the Lansing Center, Cooley Law School Stadium, Lansing City Market and was on the team that created the Common Ground Festival.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University and her Master of Arts from George Washington University.

Mrs. Bryant was married to the late Dr. William C. Bryant, Jr. and has three adult children and five grandchildren who are the love and joy of her life. She loves to travel, especially internationally.

2021 Spotlight On Excellence

James McCurtis

Okemos High School

James “Jay” McCurtis is a Senior at Okemos High School. He is heavily active in school
where he is a member of the Black Student Union, National Honor Society, and the Okemos outreach group.
With Okemos Outreach, Jay just completed a service project where they volunteer
at the Roseland Community Daycare center in Chicago, Il. Also deeply involved
in the community, Jay is a member of the Youth Council, Lansing Branch National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP)where he serves as the
NAACP’s local Youth Council president.

Last year he was invited to speak at the Juneteenth celebration on behalf of the youth during a presentation from the newly aligned Lansing Black Leaders Coalition. Earlier this year, Jay was selected to serve on the Youth Advisory Council for the City of Lansing led by State Representative Sarah Anthony. Jay is also a member of the Turning Point of Lansing (TPOL). He has been an active member of the TPOL since he was eligible to join and remained active during the pandemic where he led several sessions. In January 2021, Jay was recognized for his community engagement and awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Citizenship Award by the Men of Alpha Phi
Alpha Fraternity, Inc. during the Lansing City Hall’s celebration.

Za’Mani Roper

J.W. Sextion High School

Za’Mani is 15-years old and a junior at J.W. Sexton High School. She exemplifies excellence at the Boys & Girls Club, at school, and within the community.

She participates in various community programs and organizations throughout the city: Impression 5 Science Center, Think-Tank, WKAR’s Curious Crew, and is a member of Rep. Sarah Anthony’s “Youth Action Council” (YAK). Za’Mani has demonstrated outstanding and inspiring leadership skills in supporting the Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020 at the State Capitol. She has been a valuable member of the Boys & Girls Club STEM Program (Green Energy Technology in the City); served as an officer for our Leadership Clubs; and won the Boys & Girls Club’s prestigious “Youth of the Year” award in 2020. She founded and established her own business: Z-Art and is licensed to sell her visual art pieces.

While Za’Mani’s community service has been exceptional, she has also excelled within the classroom! After seventh grade, she was directly advanced to the ninth grade. She is currently a high school honor student taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is excited to be working on a dual academic program with Davenport University

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