Volunteer Appreciation Spotlight: Kimme Carlos
FAmily, we’d like to introduce Kimme Carlos, a new member of Foundation Academies’ Board of Trustees, Leadership Council, and volunteer. Kimme is a public speaker, advocate, and author, and is the Founder and Executive Director of the Urban Mental Health Alliance: Advocating for Healthy Minds in Urban Communities. Recently, we had an opportunity to sit and chat with Kimme to ask her a few key questions about her experience with Foundation Academies.
- How do you view Foundation Academies through the lens of your work?
“That’s a great question. In the work that I’ve done in the community around mental health, one of the things I’ve really come to learn about is resiliency and recognizing that the opportunities that youths have can make such a huge impact on their life’s trajectory. For example, you might wonder why two students from the same neighborhood or community may take two very different paths. One of them may be on a very positive track, while the other one is not. Why? A lot of that has to do with the opportunities that a child has had, and how those opportunities have built their resiliency to continue on a positive, productive track.
I was introduced to Foundation Academies by a colleague, and I was so impressed that I decided to join the Leadership Council. Once on the Leadership Council, I had the chance to actually talk to and interact with students, and that was so great. At this school, students are given such an opportunity right here in the heart of Trenton. A lot of adults that I work with come from such adversity and have never had the opportunity of having one strong, giving adult or organization who has really supported them or given them that “bump” that they need. At Foundation, students are truly given the extra support they need to go out and really make a difference.
We have such pearls in our community that often don’t get to realize their full potential because they don’t have that necessary support. They don’t have that opportunity to build that resiliency. For me – and I shared this at the first board meeting I went to – was that I see Foundation as a gem in the community because it just takes that ONE person or opportunity to change the entire direction of a youth’s life. I look at Foundation and I see that you’re doing that for hundreds of students. That’s huge because a lot of those students are going to stay right here in the community and continue to make a difference in other people’s lives.”
- What do you like most about volunteering with Foundation Academies?
“I really love engaging with the students. I’ve had several opportunities to volunteer and I will continue to do so whenever I can. Recently, I volunteered for student ambassador interviews where students gave presentations about the school, hosted tours, and sat and let me ask them questions about their experiences. It was so inspiring to listen to how excited the students are about school, as well as learn about their plans for the future. Most of my mental health advocacy work is done with adults, but I find myself so inspired when talking to the youth. It may sound corny, but the youth really are the ones who are going to inherit the earth, and it gives me a lot of inspiration to be able to say ‘Okay! We’re leaving this in good hands.’”
- Why do you think others should support Foundation Academies?
“One of my deep philosophies is that the way to better a community is by first changing, supporting, and empowering the people. My philosophy is very grassroots. You hear a lot of conversation in and around Trenton about improving our communities, improving our neighborhoods, rising up, and doing better. When I look at Foundation and I look at the youth, I see huge opportunities for growth in our communities because we’re empowering our youth before they fall into a school to prison pipeline, before they fall into substance abuse, before they fall into gang culture; we have the opportunity to set them on a positive path where they’re going to be able to do wonderful things for the community. They’re going to be productive and successful, and that’s where we’re going to find our next urban engineers, creators, healers, and community activists.
It starts HERE, in our schools. You change your community by uplifting and inspiring your youth because when they’re given these opportunities, it changes their worldview. Foundation Academies has an opportunity to make change happen where other institutions’ existing infrastructures have not allowed them to do so.
The youth having the opportunity to partake in Foundation Academies are going to be able to bring such wealth to Trenton in the form of knowledge, energy, and information, and pour back into the community. They’re going to go to college and graduate, and while some will move away, a good percentage of them are going to come back home. For me, it’s about a long-term benefit: these children are going to graduate, come back, have families, buy properties, work in local organizations, and rally and work to uplift the community. That’s a huge part of what Foundation Academies contributes to Trenton.”
- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
“At first, I thought I was just going to come in and talk about mental health, and then I fell in love with Foundation Academies and what it is doing for its students. I’m really excited to be part of the organization and really grateful for another opportunity for me to use my talents and skills and to give back to the community. Giving back is very important to me.”
Thank you for your dedication and support, Kimme. We sincerely appreciate you!
Kimme Carlos is the Founder and Executive Director of the Urban Mental Health Alliance: Advocating for Healthy Minds in Urban Communities; Co-Founder and Lead Facilitator of Sister Wellness Retreats: Healing Spaces for Black Women; a certified health and wellness coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition; a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid and author of The Window of Grace: Living in Recovery through Christian Faith. Kimme has been a member of several nonprofit boards including that of Children’s Futures, The Center for Family, Community, and Social Justice; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Mercer County, where she is also a certified facilitator for the nationally known program, Family to Family. Kimme is a member of the vestry and Chair of the Mental Harmony ministry at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Trenton. She is a graduate of Regent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a minor in Psychology. As an advocate with lived experience, Kimme keynotes and facilitates on mental health, addiction and recovery, and wellness and self-care. She has received numerous awards for her nonprofit and volunteer work. Kimme has two children, and six grandchildren, and lives in Pennsylvania.
If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, click the button below to get started. Our scholars look forward to welcoming you!
Michelle Lawlor, Marketing and Communications Associate, spearheads Foundation Academies’ marketing and communication efforts. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Multimedia Communications from Rider University.