For generations, inner cities throughout America have been the home for a large population of African Americans. It has also represented financial struggle, crime, and poor education. However, there are a lot of great people and ideas that were born in the inner city. The inner city of Atlanta birthed one of the greatest Americans of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King. We all have the potential to be great because we all can serve others. I am a success story born from the inner city of Atlanta because of support and mentorship from people that cared about me regardless of their race, my financial status or my family’s educational background. L.E.A.D. has been successful in our effort to develop college bound civically engaged student-athletes from the inner city of Atlanta because we respect three gaps that have to be closed before we can make an impact. The first gap that has to be closed before we can make an impact in the inner city is the culture gap. Within the inner city, there is a culture that exists that forces students to ask three questions internally or externally. Who are you? Why are you here? When are you leaving? Often times with good intentions, many people and organizations come into the inner city to help but their lack of consistency does more harm than good. Nobody wants to be hurt so it is easier for students to harden their hearts to protect themselves until you answer all three questions with a positive response. The second gap that has to be closed before we can make an impact in the inner city is the history gap. For generations, inner city communities have been and still are underserved. Lack of resources and drugs have contributed to an increase in the crime rate. Increased high school dropouts and teenage pregnancy has caused our youth to give up before they can start. This is nothing new to inner city communities though. This has been going on for many many years. To understand the road ahead, you have to ask those that are coming back. Strong leaders that fought for change decades ago are older and/or deceased. It is important now more than ever that L.E.A.D. continues to develop a new generation of leaders and show them how to prepare the next generation of leadership that will follow them. We have to take a different action in order to get a different result. The third gap that has to be closed before we can make an impact in the inner city is the language gap. When I say to my daughter “Don’t give up!”, she interprets it as “Dad is here with you today, tomorrow…to help me”. L.E.A.D. is in the inner city everyday saying “Don’t give up!” to our student-athletes. The question is do the parentless students that we serve interpret our encouragement the same way that my own daughter does? The answer is yes because consistent action follows our words. In order to effectively speak the language of the inner city, you must be understood. Otherwise, it is just moving lips. In order to make positive change in the inner city, sustainable impact must be made. Join the L.E.A.D. Community as we continue to close the gaps of higher education achievement in the inner city of Atlanta. L.E.A.D. Today…Change Tomorrow.