Services to Youth

The Links, Incorporated’s Services to Youth facet utilizes an integrated approach to preparing young people to succeed in the 21st century workforce and to promote healthy lifestyles within families and communities. Today, The Links, Incorporated continues to implement transformational programs that are responsive to the academic, health, cultural, social awareness, career development, and mentoring needs of youth.

The primary goals of this facet are to:

  • Close the achievement gap from pre-K through college, with the intent of preparing our youth for the global workforce as healthy citizens
  • Promote the integration of a health and wellness component focused on youth, families and communities in our Services to Youth programs
  • Develop training modules for local pre-K through college mentoring programs, to ascertain a high level of support for youth in our communities
  • Expand and support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and promote the integration of the arts (STEM to STEAM)
  • Promote and support historically black colleges and universities for ensured sustainability

Read More for additional information about our Services to Youth initiatives and signature programs.

New Orleans (LA) Chapter
Services To Youth Programming

The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has sponsored a variety programs meeting the goals of the Services to Youth  facet. Most recently, the chapter sponsored the following programs:

GIRL POWER! with partner school, Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School

This program supports the 8th grade girls for the entire school year. Starting with an annual theme and kickoff celebration, STY leads as each facet conducts an engaging session. We focus on closing the middle school academic achievement gap, promoting health and wellness, and improving their financial literacy. A concluding event takes place before graduation. 

PROJECT L.E.A.D. – High Expectations

4th – 8th Grade ~ “Links Educate, Accommodate and Develop with High Expectations”

The title L.E.A.D. reflects The Links, Incorporated’s effort to close the academic achievement gap of middle school students, while responding to their social-emotional needs, encouraging health and wellness, introducing STEM related education and career options, and improving their financial literacy. Instilling “High Expectations” in the youth participating in the program is a priority. Project L.E.A.D. participants are empowered to believe that they are capable of making significant contributions to society, and that The Links, Incorporated members and society in general also has high expectations of them. The program goals are to:

  • Emphasize closing the middle school academic achievement gap
  • Promote health and wellness with youth, families and communities
  • Support the National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative
  • Involve and empower youth to become leaders in violence prevention
  • Introduce and promote financial literacy at an early age
  • Prepare and promote college readiness
  • Develop effective mentoring relationships between children and positive adult role models


For over 30 years, The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated has hosted the local round of the Scripps National Spelling BeeThe goal of the spelling bee is to encourage students in grades 5th through 8th to challenge themselves to master the fundamentals of vocabulary and spelling. The top spellers from our region compete for one spot at the national bee in Washington, D.C.

In 2020, the Spelling Bee was cancelled because of the global pandemic. The Bee returned in 2021 with the local rounds being hosted virtually. Zaila Avant-garde was the winner of Louisiana’s local round of the bee hosted by the New Orleans (LA) Chapter.

On July 8, 2021, the Spelling Bee finals were televised from Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. The finals featured 11 accomplished spellers who earned the right to compete by advancing through three levels of competition – preliminary, quarterfinal and semifinal segments. 

History was made on July 8, 2021 when Zaila Avant-garde of Louisiana became the 2021 Scripps Nation Spelling Bee Champion. She was the first African-American winner of the Bee and the first ever Louisiana winner. 

“Since its beginnings nearly 100 years ago, the Scripps National Spelling Bee and its spellers have inspired audiences across the globe with a compelling combination of academic excellence and engaging entertainment,” said Adam Symson, president and chief executive officer of The E.W. Scripps Company. “Now, as the world continues to adapt to an ongoing pandemic, Scripps is committed to reimagining the beloved competition in a way that safely allows our exceptional spellers to continue this iconic tradition on the national stage.”




STEM-02-300x178The National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative was crafted out of The Links, Incorporated’s dedication to ensuring quality STEM education at all grade levels so that youth are exposed to and are prepared to study for STEM related careers. By preparing and encouraging students to attend colleges and universities with STEM related programs, The Links, Incorporated equips students of color with the skills to compete and excel in a global workforce that increasingly relies on individuals with STEM related proficiencies. The Links, Incorporated aims to identify and align with select STEM related organizations to prepare youth for STEM related careers.

The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated partners with Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School  in New Orleans and provides mentoring and STEM related growth opportunities.


The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated has hosted the National African American Read-In Day at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School. The program is sponsored by The Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English.   Members of the chapter read books authored by African American writers and lead interactive informal discussion groups.




Chartered in 1992, The 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans, Inc. is a member of the international 100 Black Men of America, Inc., which was founded in 1963.

The Metro New Orleans chapter is one of more than 100 chapters in the United States, the Caribbean and England.  The chapter has an aggressive plan entitled, Four For The Future, to address four key areas to strengthen the future of black youth: mentoring, education, health and wellness and economic empowerment. Their mission is to provide support and improve the quality of life for African Americans, and youth in particular, in the New Orleans community.

In 2015, the New Orleans (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated proudly commenced a partnership with 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans to positively impact the lives of young African American males and other youth in our community. The Chapter joins the 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans in mentoring and engaging youth in educational and career development opportunities.


Former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite launched the Crescent City Keepers (“CCK”) Mentoring Program in 2014. In an announcement made on October 1, 2015, President Barack Obama brought CCK under the umbrella of the President’s My Brother’s Keepers (“MBK”) Initiative. CCK focuses on all young people, including boys and young men of color, ages 14 through 16, who are considered as having a “high risk” of being killed as a result of gun violence. The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated proudly partnered with U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite and the CCK. The New Orleans Links provided ancillary mentoring and support necessary to address some of the immediate needs of the mentee and his or her family. U.S. Attorney Polite said: “It is not enough for us to wait for these young people to show up in a police report, or worse, on a coroner’s slab.  We must intervene in order to save their lives.  This initiative is about public safety in its truest sense, and it allows our community’s organizations and residents to be part of the solution.” For additional information on U. S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s CCK Mentoring Program, read the latest Press Release.


The New Orleans (LA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated partnered with the ‘Awesome Girls’ mentoring program  at St. Mark’s Community Center to provide African American teenage girls  with educational and cultural enrichment in their path toward adulthood. James Rogers, Director of the Awesome Girls Mentoring Program, built the program on four guiding principles — relationship with community, relationship with family, relationship with school and relationship with self — in an effort to teach girls to achieve on several layers without conflict.