Kids are more ready to take on responsibility than most adults think, said David Plyler, chief executive of Gleneagles Group LLC in Atlanta.
To that end, he created the Leadership 101 program for the Atlanta Youth Academy, an inner-city Christian school.
“This young generation is very media-sensitive and focused on instant gratification,” Mr. Plyler said. “We teach them about patience, goal-setting, staying on task, achievement, and winners and losers.”
The demanding yearlong academic program is based on weekly visits from mentors who instruct seventh- and eighth-graders in leadership, project management, teamwork, careers, economics and the stock market.
Eighth-graders are divided into teams that perform community service and participate in mentoring and special projects, and that are given complex initiatives to manage.
For example, each team is given a mock investment fund to “trade” 20 stocks throughout the year. In a philanthropy exercise, teams have $3,000 to $5,000 to donate, and are required to research and interview different charities.
For Mr. Plyler, the benefits are broad.
“I'm a hands-on person; I'm not a person who can sit on boards. I like to be in the fray. And it has reconnected me to the passion I had for the civil rights movement in the "60s.”