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The ILP: Where Future Leaders Find Their Footing

Established in 2018, the Institute for Leadership & Purpose (ILP) is an elementary and middle school leadership initiative that empowers students to become confident global citizens through experiential learning and local partnerships. The program introduces leadership skills and outreach opportunities at an age when students are naturally developing a wider awareness of themselves, the world, and their Baltimore community.

A generous leading supporter of the ILP, Dr. Keith Flaherty ’83 believes that the program gives students the confidence, agency, and opportunity to reshape their communities.

“When I was growing up in Baltimore and looking back on those years, I felt like the rules had been written by prior generations and that we were stuck with divisions and boundaries between communities in and around the city,” he said. “What inspired me about the ILP as it was being conceived was the intent to dissolve boundaries and engage students in building relationships and partnerships with students and schools throughout the city.”

Last year, Calvert School and the ILP forged a supportive partnership with the Safe Alternative Foundation for Education (SAFE), a nonprofit based in Southwest Baltimore that teaches students the importance of obtaining an education.

Called Bridging Baltimore, the partnership saw middle school students from both institutions meet twice per month to build relationships and break down barriers built by socioeconomic disparities. As Dr. Flaherty says, schools like Calvert are uniquely positioned to bridge these divides, and initiatives like the ILP make it possible.

“By providing students with a forum to learn and dialogue about the educational experiences of their peers throughout the city, the first critical step is taken: allowing Calvert students to develop their voices,” Dr. Flaherty said.

In addition to offerings like Bridging Baltimore, the ILP fosters future leaders through twice-yearly leadership summits, in-class projects related to purpose learning, and outreach events throughout the year. Through a partnership with the World Leadership School, students have had the opportunity to experience immersive educational trips to locations like Costa Rica and New Mexico – and going forward, the Project Wayfinder certificate program will provide increased opportunities for Seventh and Eighth Graders to grow their leadership skills.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily halted some of these offerings, others have been successfully reimagined and continued this year.

This spring, Calvert students will join other independent and public schools nearby in attending the virtual Middle School Student Leadership in Diversity Conference (MSSLDC) featuring activist and filmmaker André Lee.

Lee, creator of the film The Prep School Negro, delivered a keynote address before students engaged in a variety of activities focused on the conference theme: “Activating Our Identities, Using Our Voices & Making Good Trouble.”

Lee’s keynote promoted meaningful discussions between students throughout Baltimore and was generously sponsored by the Kahlert Foundation through the John L. “Luke” Stone ’86 Leadership Speaker Fund.

As the ILP continues to grow, the Luke Stone ’86 Speaker Series will introduce students and the greater Calvert community to a wide array of diverse perspectives and topics to nurture empathetic, purpose-driven global citizens. As students experience these talks and other programming offered by the ILP, Dr. Flaherty hopes that they gain a sense of ownership over their abilities and beliefs.

“As Calvert middle schoolers transition from being senior leaders in the Calvert community to ‘new kids’ at their high schools, the ILP can provide them with the confidence to engage with students and adults at their new schools and outside of school on this theme of community-building across historical divisions,” Dr. Flaherty said. “And, as in all pursuits, I hope that they feel licenses to be creative in framing the rules of engagement with their peers in their school age years and beyond.”

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