UVA Darden, The House Inc. Award Future Leaders in Unique High School Program

12 October 2020

The EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute awarded its Certificate in Leadership to its Class of 2020, a group comprised of Washington, D.C., area high school students participating in a multiyear, precollegiate initiative in a shared campus experience between The House Inc. and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. While 2020 was anything but a normal year, the unusual circumstances didn’t stop this year’s class from charting their future and tapping their deep potential. The Class of 2020 is the second to earn its certificates.

In a long-term commitment to provide academic, social, and intellectual opportunities not often found in the high school setting, EmpowerMEnt provides students with information and adventure in topics beyond their high school curriculum in a fully immersive leadership certificate program. The joint academic collaboration between The House Inc., a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit, and the Darden School informs the next generation of leaders through a series of residencies, conversations, case studies and classroom lectures offered on Grounds — in Charlottesville, at UVA Darden DC Metro in Rosslyn, Virginia, and at The House Inc.

Darden School Foundation President Michael Woodfolk and actor Jason George, a UVA alumnus, participated in the private certificate ceremony to honor the students’ progress. Conferral of Certificates in Leadership I and II, backed by the curricular partnership and innovative co-curricular experiences between Darden and The House Inc., were presented by Professor Paul Simko, the Darden faculty lead on the program, and Jessica Streufert (EMBA ’17, Curry ’17), director of programs and administration of The House Inc.

This year’s ceremony also included a live performance from artist David Garibaldi.

UVA President Jim Ryan opened the ceremony with a prerecorded message noting his early quest to shape his future as a teen and the “many ways students of EmpowerMEnt are now ahead at this time of their lives because of their access to the EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute.”

Darden Dean Scott Beardsley said to the Class of 2020: “These skills are exactly what employers are looking for in the modern business world. As home to the world’s top-ranked business school faculty, Darden is proud that our renowned professors were able to join The House Inc. on a journey to help you find your why.”

Among the engagements this term, students connected via keynote talks with corporate guests that included Phil Knight, founder of Nike Inc., while Darden Professors Ed Freeman, Robert Carraway and Simko were among those who led trainings and case studies. Darden alumni supported sessions, including Dr. Taison Bell (EMBA ’20), who led a mentoring conversation with the students on topics including complications surrounding the pandemic, the track of medical careers and how to find their path to success on the other side of this crisis.

“This University of Virginia Darden School partnership with The House is so important to us,” said Woodfolk. “Together, we are providing access to unprecedented training and development to an underserved segment of youth, increasing their knowledge and sharpening their skills and unique abilities so they can apply them to take real action to better our world.  We’re just getting started.”

Darden and The House Inc. will welcome the next EmpowerMEnt cohort this fall with returning students continuing to the next discipline of study.

EmpowerMEnt opening residency session on high performance teams included rowing and featured coaching with Olympian Dan Lyons in Washington, D.C.
EmpowerMEnt speaker series session with Phil Knight, Founder of Nike, Inc.
Darden Professor Ed Freeman was among the Darden faculty members who led sessions with the second class of students in the EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute.
The certificate ceremony for the Class of 2020 EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute.
About The House Inc.

The House, Inc. is a nonprofit organization serving youth in the Washington, DC region through leadership development, academic enrichment, and total health initiatives.  The House, Inc. was founded in 2005 to address challenges and opportunities of the modern teen, providing out-of-school time programs to support youth in marginalized communities.  The House, Inc.’s program initiatives work to improve education, employment, and health outcomes for students.

The House Inc.’s EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute develops youth to be activists, creators and innovators that advance change as global-ready leaders. The curriculum is a multiyear program that merges intercultural leadership principles with emerging business issues and trends.  It introduces high school students to new ways of thinking and problem-solving with a bias for action along with optimal team performance to help teens develop their own leadership skills to serve both business and society.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington recognized The House, Inc. as “One of the Best” high-impact nonprofits for its dropout prevention and mentoring programs in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia.  The House Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.  Learn more at: www.thehouse-inc.com.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia