Make a Difference! Leadership Academy Spring 2017 class graduates

Six participants graduated as part of the Spring 2017 Make a Difference! Leadership Academy on June 8, the eighth class to finish the grassroots IMG_3944program, an initiative of the Magnolia Project and the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.

The goal of the Leadership Academy is to support the efforts of local residents to make changes in neighborhood factors that contribute to disparities in health and birth outcomes. The Academy trains individuals and assists them in the development of a Community Action Plan that outlines a specific project to move a community to action.

The graduating class participated in and completed several community projects. One of the biggest accomplishments the group celebrated was creating a safe bus stop for children living in the Blodgett Homes apartment complex. The group spent several hours advocating at city official offices to have the unsafe bus stop be moved from a busy intersection to a vacant grassy area. The new location allows kids to play and roam freely away from passing cars. The group also advocated for a crossing guard to be present to ensure that the children were escorted safely to and from the bus. On June 24, the group participated in their final service project, a neighborhood cleanup for their apartment complex.

Devin Coleman, chairman of the Coalition’s Northeast Florida Fatherhood Task Force, delivered the commencement speech and encouraged the graduating class to keep advocating for what is right.

For more information about the Make a Difference! Leadership Academy, please contact LaRonda Howard at