Building a Bridge to the Community
Rob Rogers signed up to sponsor Vance High School in Charlotte, North Carolina because he had a purpose. A few years ago, Rob started his own initiative, called “University Connect” (named after his restaurant’s area, University Place), which bridges local businesses with people and the needs of the community.
Chick-fil-A Leader Academy was a natural fit, especially given his strong relationship with the school. “The key to this program is the Facilitator — and Audrey-Lee Bost is great. She’s dedicated and passionate, all the things these students need to succeed,” reflected Rob.
Audrey-Lee knew after meeting with Rob that the program would work well with her existing leadership class. But the “pivotal” moment came at the program Kickoff, when students packed meals for Feeding Children Everywhere. For Audrey-Lee and her students, it was inspirational.
“They were making an immediate impact. From that moment on, everything the students did was to give back and help others,” said Audrey-Lee.
Doing Good by Giving Back
For their “Do Good December” service project, students partnered with local law enforcement to collect and purchase toys and then deliver them to families in the area.
Student Omar Baker had a unique experience with the project: “I grew up not having much. It was touching because I was in the same position at one point, and somebody looked out for me. So, for me, it was really giving back.”
“The program gave students a chance to connect to the broader community — to put themselves out there and make a difference. In that way, it becomes life-giving not just a program,” added Rob.
For their final Impact Project, the students organized a multi-month mentorship program with Vance’s feeder schools — grades first through third. Every other day, they would go into the classrooms and help teach and guide the children. It was an experience that allowed students to channel what they were learning to a younger generation.
Bringing it Home
In partnership with Rob’s restaurant, Vance students hosted a 5k Run. The race raised $17,500, which will be poured back into the schools in the form of four $2,500 scholarships, with the rest going to individual schools in the district.
“In 14 years of teaching, this has been the most inspiring program that I have been a part of. To watch high school students find a desire to give back to the community that they’re from is overwhelming,” said Audrey-Lee.