University City

YBM Alliance holds 2 events to honor outstanding high school students

The 2015 YBM Scholars wear the baseball caps of the colleges and universities they will attend.
The 2015 YBM Scholars wear the baseball caps of the colleges and universities they will attend. FRED BRAZIEL

The Young Black Male Leadership Alliance’s goal to develop and inspire young leaders culminated in two recent events to honor inductees and celebrate their achievements.

The Top 100 Young Black Men of Charlotte program highlights the achievements of outstanding male high school juniors.

In April, an event recognized students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, leadership, extracurricular activities and community service.

The YBM Alliance, a nonprofit organization, was created by John Martin in 2007 at University Park Baptist Church. The YBM Alliance is growing, and organizers hope it will become a nationwide program.

Martin’s goal is to create a new reality for young black men by developing a generation of future leaders.

The young men in the program are helped to develop their leadership skills, maintain academic excellence and give back by mentoring, community service and public speaking.

In May, the YBM Alliance honored college-bound seniors during National Scholar’s Day. Many students are awarded scholarships, and the event highlights their achievements in classrooms, schools and communities.

“We have worked with some of these young men for years, and we want them to know how proud we are of each of them and their accomplishments,” said Martin, who is CEO of the organization.

DeLisa Tolbert, volunteer coordinator of National Scholar’s Day, said the event is chance for the men to be recognized for their leadership and allows them time in the limelight in front of family and friends. Also, the colleges to which students have committed are announced.

Tolbert, of Belmont, said the students have achieved a high level of leadership, and all have good ideas of where they want to be in the future.

“They’ve all worked really hard to get where they are. In addition to having smarts, they have life skills to achieve success to be able to lead people or lead a team,” Tolbert said.

YBM Alliance helps students with issues such as applying to college, getting recommendation letters, making personal connections, speaking in public and preparing for tests.

Michael Jones, YBM Alliance executive director, said the group is open to eligible students from across the Charlotte region.

Jones, of Mooresville, said Martin is the driving force behind the operation, and the goal is to execute his vision for the organization. “He’s the one we draw all our energy from,” Jones said.

Jones said the group has a goal to embrace community to ensure the program’s success.

“It’s important to create a new reality for the global community as it relates to YBM,” Jones said. “How can we help in your community, your school, your home, your group?”

Austin Bennett, YBM top 100 inductee and student at North Mecklenburg High School, said he is honored to be an inductee and realizes he needs to become a role model in the community.

“Becoming a YBM inductee has helped me strive to become a better man for the African-American community,” he said. “It has made me want to inspire others to strive to be elite and achieve their dreams.”

“The ceremony only amplified the honor even more, giving me the chance to see that this was actually happening. I was in a state of awe when I received my certificate, and I feel very blessed to be a part of an event of that magnitude.”

Rachel Daniels is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Rachel? Email her at

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