Last month the NAACP recognized 68 Graduates from the inaugural 2018 NAACP Next Generation (NextGen) Young Professional Leadership Program during a graduation ceremony and reception at the NAACP 110th National Convention in Detroit, MI.

The graduation ceremony featured the pronouncement of the 2018 NEXTGEN class, highlights of the social justice work of the graduates, and award graduation certificates by NAACP National Leaders. Of these 68 graduates was the “hometown hero” and man of impact himself Ashton Burrell.

Ashton Burrell is the founder of the LIVE Mentorship Program (LMP), which he founded in 2011 while a sophomore at Lincoln University.  LMP was created to provide mentoring to all youth between the ages of 9 to 19 from different paths and cultures of life within his surrounding communities. 

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Principally, LMP helps youths with their schoolwork so that they can complete high school, provides drug and alcohol counseling, prepares youths for the workforce by teaching them how to dress and deport themselves for success, advising on career goals and exposing them to organizations for networking opportunities, and providing a place for social and recreational activities. Mr. Burrell develops a strong bond with the youths that is life-altering.

The program maintains a 100% graduation rate for every senior that has been in the program. Since 2011 Burrell has helped and inspired over 400 students to graduate from high school.

Mr. Burrell’s activities are not limited to mentoring.  He has organized marches and rallies for social justice and judicial equity, advocates for all communities, petitions corporations for fairness and diversity in hiring practices.

Mr. Burrell has also helped lead efforts throughout the Nation. These efforts have helped over 500 victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, TX and Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. Burrell has also helped lead efforts to provide over 250 books to schools in West Philadelphia and so much more.

Mr. Burrell is the Chairman of the Human Relations Council for the State of New Jersey as a Governor-appointed member, a member of the NAACP New Brunswick Branch Executive Board, and Chairman of the Highland Park Human Relations Commission. For his many social and community engagements, Mr. Burrell was recognized with the Johnson and Johnson MLK Community Service Award at the Johnson and Johnson headquarters.

Burrell also received the NAACP New Brunswick's branch President's award, The Spread the Word 2nd Annual Humanitarian Award, Highland Park MLK Humanitarian award and other great awards of recognition. 

NextGen is a 12-month leadership development training program for young adults between the ages of 21 and 35 to develop civil rights competencies and leadership skills necessary to be active and effective social justice advocates.

The NextGen program features a series of webinar & classroom trainings, case studies, and group exercises. The NextGen curriculum encompasses leadership development, legislative action, unit administration, communications, fundraising, budgeting, intergenerational relations, and ethics in leadership, advocacy, and program planning consistent with NAACP strategic plan: Game Changers for the 21st Century.

The inaugural class launched in January 2018 and concluded in December of the same year with a total of 68 graduates. The ceremony also recognized six Scholars of Excellence, which are 2018 participants that will continue in 2019 to complete the curriculum.

NEXTGEN Graduates are actively involved in their local Branches as subscribing life members of the NAACP, elected officers and executive committee members.  They have recruited hundreds of new members, developed voter action plans for their local communities and have become actively engaged on a wide range of social justice issues. The 2018 graduating class includes NAACP leaders from 29 different states.