Georgia Works

Georgia Works

Chip Rogers

LEADing to a Brighter Future

By Chip Rogers Posted May 20, 2013 9:24am (EDT)
CJ Stewart with Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves & Dexter Fowler of the Colorado Rockies

CJ Stewart with Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves & Dexter Fowler of the Colorado Rockies


Many a former athlete has talked about “giving back”; CJ Stewart is delivering.

The former professional baseball player with the Chicago Cubs grew up in inner-city Atlanta. Like many of his friends, CJ faced the challenges associated with starting life in a public housing project. But he also had two gifts; disciplined determination and mentors willing to lead him.

CJ’s rise from the Hollywood Court housing projects to the Chicago Cubs is a “feel-good” story of a winner. His work with boys facing the same challenges is where his real victory lies.

Following his professional baseball career, CJ and his wife Kelli started a non-profit program known as L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) for the purpose of creating life-changing opportunity for inner-city youth through baseball. L.E.A.D. offers boys in the Atlanta Public School system the chance to join a rigorous program designed to maximize academic and baseball success through mentorship relationships with constant accountability.

The success stories are inspiring.

African-American males in the Atlanta Public School system have about a 50/50 chance of obtaining a high school diploma. Participants in the L.E.A.D. program are all graduating high school. Every student who joins L.E.A.D. graduates high school. Yes, a 100% graduation rate. Ninety percent of these young men go on to attend college through a baseball scholarship.

L.E.A.D. participants receive the following in order for the organization to achieve its mission:

  • Year round academic & mentoring support (measured, monitored accountability)
  • Year round baseball training and competition (athletic excellence and discipline)
  • Year round community service (leadership development and civic responsibility)
  • Year round enrichment activities (exposure to colleges and careers)

The impact of changing lives, and a community, is not always seen overnight. Yet through the success of L.E.A.D. generations of Atlanta families will know a better life.

CJ & Kelli Stewart, the type of LEADers every city needs!


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