It is 7:30 a.m. in a classroom at W.H. Adamson High School. With coffee in hand, Francisco, Eduardo, and Omar are meeting with Maria Garcia, the school’s community liaison - better known to the students and parents and pretty much anyone who has walked through the halls of Adamson over the past 20 years as the beloved Ms. Garcia. Students are running past the classroom. She pulls in a handful of them and tells them to listen.
Francisco earnestly begins: We want to help you. We’ve been to college in the not too distant past. It would have been nice to have some guidance and direction. What can we do for you?
It is 2014 and the Leadership Forward Mentoring Program is about to take off.
The idea for Leadership Forward was not born overnight. Rather, it was the culmination of the ideas and hard work of several people. Alfredo Duarte, the owner of Taxco Produce, had been to Adamson a year earlier and met with students there who were eager to learn from entrepreneurs and business people about how to be successful. Francisco Alvarez, an executive at Arkoma Companies, felt a calling to help students who did not have the resources and means to attend college. Eduardo Marquez, a Dallas attorney, knew both Alfredo and Francisco and connected the two of them together when he saw their visions align. Ms. Garcia understood that her students needed support and could flourish under the guidance of people invested in their future. Pieces began to fall into place. Meetings occurred. Separate paths merged toward a common goal: filling the need for students in the area whose families had not gone to college, who did not know how to set themselves up in high school to go to college, who did not know how to pay for college, who did not know all of the opportunities that were available to them. Through mentoring, students could learn about not just what steps they needed to take to attend college, but truly discover their strength and power to determine their own future.
"We chose to name our organization the Leadership Forward Mentoring Program because we believe that through mentoring we are helping shape the leaders of tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the positive impact our students have on their community and to see them return to our Program one day, as mentors."
Managing Director, Arkoma Companies
Since 2014, Leadership Forward continues to be a collaborative effort. At its core, it is an organization built on the support of, and input from, the community, its schools, and parents who share the same passion for opening more doors for our students.