Demontra Cooper got off to a good start. A student at North Carolina A&T, he was studying business when his family got a double dose of terrible news. His father had already been ill but had gotten worse, leading to his being moved to a nursing home. Then, his sister was diagnosed with cancer. “It just devasted my family,” says Demontra. “I was depressed and didn’t want to live or continue school. I was homeless, staying with a friend. Then, I met my girlfriend, now wife, and she encouraged me to go back to school and finish my degree.”
After considering several colleges and universities, Demontra decided to enroll at ECPI University’s Greensboro campus, and continued his business studies. At graduation, he received the Student Fellowship Award for the Business Management Program, as well as the Horizon Award for persevering and overcoming obstacles. Afterward, he earned an MBA and is now working at a mortgage insurance company.
While he’s happy to have his own life back on track, Demontra’s greatest satisfaction comes from a program he co-founded. It’s called Leaders of the New School, Inc. which provides guidance to elementary, middle school, and high school- aged males experiencing academic and behavioral challenges. “I wanted to start a program that caters to the needs of unfortunate young black males,” he says. “We promote academic excellence, leadership, brotherhood, and community service.
“I remember growing up, wishing I could go certain places and participate in certain things, but I couldn’t because of where I lived and my parents’ financial situation. Black males have a higher chance of getting arrested, killed, dropping out of school, or becoming a teen parent. That’s why I started a program to decrease those statistics and help every young man I meet.”
Services offered by Leaders of the New School include a Lunch Buddy program where volunteers assist fifth-grade teachers, getting students to and from the cafeteria, as well as offering guidance and conversation throughout the lunch period. There’s also tutor and homework assistance, as well as a Young leaders Program that meets on Saturdays. “We seek to engage the young men in skill development, teamwork, and social activities,” says Demontra. “We discuss various topics, such as respect, manhood, finances, and higher education. “My goal is to expand the program across the state of North Carolina. I want to help 300 young men graduate from high school, attend college, or trade school or go into the workforce. I also want to use my education and business experience to help 30 entrepreneurs run their businesses effectively. I want to make a difference.”
“Black males have a higher chance of getting arrested, killed, dropping out of school, or becoming a teen parent. That’s why I started a program to decrease those statistics and help every young man I meet.”– Demontra Cooper, Greensboro Campus Business Major