"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Jeremiah 29:11
The Youth Hope-Builders Academy stands at the forefront of guiding the moral, spiritual, and leadership development of Black youth, preparing them to make hope-bearing choices in everyday life, empowering them to be strong Christian leaders in today’s and tomorrow’s Church and world, and of promoting support of these youth by adults. The Youth Hope-Builders Academy extends the historical role of Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), Atlanta, Georgia, in developing Black leaders for the practices of ministry in church and society. The Academy is an outgrowth of an initiative called the Youth and Family Convocation begun in 1994.
The ongoing specific objectives of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy include providing opportunities for youth to:
Affirm their ethnic-cultural identity unashamedly and their Christian identity unapologetically;
Discern ways of addressing and handling issues they face in everyday life;
Reflect theologically on the nature of life, hope-bearing leadership, and service;
Develop a Christian framework as a guide for decision-making and self-behavior;
Increase knowledge of the Christian lifestyle, the nature of leadership, and choices in Christian vocation;
Identify gifts, leadership skills possessed and needed, and approaches for developing them for current and future use in today’s and tomorrow’s church and world;
Establish mentoring relationships;
Heighten awareness of the global “village” in which they reside.
Over the past decade (2002-2012), the Youth Hope-Builders Academy (YHBA) of Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) has had the privilege of guiding three-hundred-fifty-six (356) talented African American and African high school youth in summer residential programs and follow-up activities of study, theological reflection, community service, and leadership. Quantitative and qualitative assessments have consistently shown these youths’ growth in their identities as Christians and as Black persons; their connections to family, church, and world; their understandings of hope and ways of overcoming impediments to hoping; as well as awareness of their gifts, opportunities, and vocational direction.