Founders, Gary and Melissa Trujillo, established the Be A Leader Foundation in 2002; since then, it has impacted the lives of thousands of underserved youth in Arizona. The foundation’s mission is to increase the number of students who are prepared for and succeed in higher education by empowering them with tools, leadership skills and consistent support, transforming lives and creating life-long opportunities for success. Be A Leader is convinced that every student, regardless of his or her socio-economic status, has the ability to pursue a higher education and share in the American Dream.
In 1995, the founders of Be A Leader Foundation, Gary and Melissa Trujillo, decided they wanted to have an impact on society by changing the educational aspirations of elementary, high school and college students. It was then they determined that families in South Phoenix (where Gary had grown up) did not have access to technology, which drastically reduced their opportunity to develop critical skills to enhance their educational opportunities. The founders of Be A Leader along with others then raised $1,000,000 to create the Roosevelt Community Technology Center (RCTC) in 1996. Shortly after Be A Leader’s founders began to mentor young students who would frequent the center and soon realized the need to instill in them a college-going mentality.
Be A Leader initially began as a scholarship organization providing Hispanic students at Arizona State University with the financial resources and mentoring needed to complete their education. Impacted by their experience, in 2006 Be A Leader began offering structured leadership programming to thirty-two 8th grade students in the Roosevelt Elementary School District. Since then, the organization has added additional programs now impacting thousands of students, 7th grade through college, annually. Be A Leader has also established multiple partnerships with local school districts, postsecondary institutions, corporations, nonprofits and municipal entities throughout Arizona.
Over the years the foundation has expanded its menu of programs but has consistently stayed true to its mission. Every program that has been added directly supports the foundation’s mission of increasing the number of college-going students by empowering them to become college bound focused and prepared through leadership training and mentoring. To further the mission, Be A Leader has organized its programming into three strategic priorities: Postsecondary Access, Postsecondary Transition, and Postsecondary Success.