Jonathan F. Smith is dedicated to providing the renewed outlook on life, so many youth desperately need.
Recognizing the unjust obstacles that hinder too many youth, Smith is on a quest to be a source of hope and guidance.
His passion for cultivating well-rounded youth ultimately led to the creation of LEGACY Foundation.
LEGACY, which is an acronym for: Leadership Empowerment Growth Achievement Comes from our Youth – promotes the concept of children and teens receiving the necessary life skills to excel and eventually mature into quality leaders.
LEGACY presents numerous activities, such as: a theater arts program, mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities, in-depth symposiums, school supply giveaways, in addition to health and fitness projects.
There are a multitude of persons responsible for LEGACY’s steadily expanding influence. Its growth is the blooming of Smith’s well-orchestrated plan to help youths throughout the Kansas City area.
Smith’s desire to assist the youth is not a sudden occurrence. His benevolence was birthed several decades ago. Raised in a single parent home, Smith witnessed first-hand how being active in the community can impact the lives of many.
“My mother and I had talked about having this kind of program. My mother was a school teacher,” he said. “As an educator, she’d visit her students in their homes and in their neighborhoods. She’d engage in their life to a point where she would invite them into our home. She was also a foster parent.”
From those heartfelt conversations came the idea of creating a situation where youth could develop holistically. When Smith’s mother passed away in September of 2008, he became determined to establish a service in which the mindset of youths from underprivileged backgrounds would be addressed.
“It was no time better than that, to start the organization,” he acknowledged. “I started LEGACY in honor of her. It was the right time and I was in a position to start it. That’s why I make sure that LEGACY does things that are in my mom’s honor. It does things that she would approve of.”
Seeing the bigger picture
Smith, who hails from the Northeast region of Wyandotte County near Quindaro Boulevard, is alum of Washington High School.
Smith’s mom often exposed him to life outside his KCK comfort zone. And he now wants to do the same for today’s youth.
Among the primary tenets of LEGACY is to showcase people, places, events, and opportunities to the youth which they’re unaccustomed to. Smith desires for adolescents to realize that there’s more to life than the neighborhood in which they dwell.
Smith understands that once a person’s enthusiasm and hope for success are broadened, they’ll then become easier to educate. And the likelihood that they will develop into a community leader then increases.
“Our kids need a fighting chance. When you learn about (suburban school districts) the students are offered more options and situations which will help them become leaders,” he stated. “If our kids don’t know that there are several educational opportunities available – they are being left behind. My goal is to expose them to a wide variety of situations, educational options so they can see another side of life.”
Smith’s utmost desire is for LEGACY to make a difference in communities across the nation.
“The end goal is to build an organization that makes a difference on a national level. We want to develop leaders who can lead in their schools, and also in the corporate environment – as an adult,” he said. “Too often, kids from the inner city do not have the resources and are not exposed to situations that will help them develop into leaders.
“The kids are then left with what they are taught in school. Unfortunately, sometimes the schools do not teach them to be leaders. They teach them to be laborers.”
If you want to learn more about LEGACY or donate to the foundation, there are several options.
Go to www.ourlegacyfoundation.org and click on the donate button to make a one-time donation or to become a monthly donor. Smith also takes donations via mail at: P.O. Box 8193 Kansas City, Mo 64145. The option of lending abilities, specialized skills to LEGACY is also invited. Info on participating with the foundation is listed on the website.