By Jessica Streufert

Newswise — The EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute’s first class has earned its Certificate in Leadership. At a presentation in Washington, D.C., the occasion was marked by speakers including Michael Woodfolk, president of the Darden School Foundation, and Jamie Foxx, Academy Award-winning actor, Grammy Award-winning musical artist and renowned comedian.

An innovative academic and leadership experience that equips and empowers youth to advance change as global leaders, the EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute is a multiyear joint venture between the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and The House Inc., a nonprofit serving youth in the Washington, D.C., region through leadership development and total health initiatives. Designed for high school students, the program features programming at the Darden and Darden DC Metro facilities in Charlottesville and Arlington, Virginia, with signature case method and experiential learning infused at The House, Inc.’s out-of-school time center in Northern Virginia. Darden faculty led creative, context-specific classes as part of a shared vision to elevate the next generation of young leaders and the work they will go on to do.

“Darden is honored to have been woven into The House, Inc.’s programs to give rise to their students’ diversity of thought and provide a sample of the university experience,” said Professor Paul Simko, Darden’s EmpowerMEnt faculty lead.

The student cohort studied in-depth with Darden faculty and participated in group initiative work, finishing with a more developed sense of complexities and greater insight.

“Darden’s strategic partnership with The House, Inc. supports the School’s mission to inspire responsible leaders, extending our reach to the next generation,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “EmpowerMEnt provides transformational learning experiences to teens to prepare them as modern leaders and provide steps to help them reach their full potential.”

Connecting youth with diverse backgrounds and different points of view is a trademark of EmpowerMEnt and encourages students’ to pursue their purpose through Darden’s unparalleled preparation for leaders of all ages. The multiyear disciplines continue to expand across fields of knowledge and expertise to prepare teens at The House, Inc. in the Washington, D.C., region.

“We believe at the Darden School that nothing happens alone. EmpowerMEnt is an example of the Darden community coming together to make a positive impact,” said Woodfolk. “Our goal is for these young people to stand out as individuals and as part of a community, joined together by a common cause. When we come together, we can only imagine the powerful things that will happen next.”

“Embodying the high expectations that we have for our students, Darden extended a permission slip to our students to seize the day,” said Helen McCormick, founder and president, The House, Inc. “The stacked mix of EmpowerMEnt keynote conversations, mentoring sessions and open-forum discussions provides opportunities and resources fundamental for securing the future.”

EmpowerMEnt Discipline 1 curriculum focused on the world’s current and future expectations of leadership. Topics included Ethics and Values-Based Leadership with Professor Ed Freeman, Foundations of Business: Introduction to Financial Statements with Simko, Understanding Expected Value with Professor Greg Fairchild, Learning to Work Across Differences with Professor Martin Davidsonand Developing My Personal Brand with Eric Fletcher. UVA residencies included academic sessions, tours of UVA Grounds and athletic facilities, and athletic events.

A convener for learning, the newly designed EmpowerMEnt Leadership Institute welcomed some of the most influential business and thought leaders in Year One of its series of training days and residencies, including Ernest Green, a member of The Little Rock Nine and Civil Rights activist, and Dr. John P. Kottewr, author of Our Iceberg Is Melting, who joined class to further discussions on leading change.

The House, Inc. and Darden will welcome the next EmpowerMEnt cohort this fall while rising second year students return to complement what they’ve learned in Year One by moving to Discipline 2.

About The House Inc.

The House Inc. Student Leadership Center is an originator and provider of out-of-school time programs for children and teens in the Washington, DC region.  Its dashboard of programs builds capabilities in marginalized youth and mentors the next generation of talent.  Now in its fifteenth year, the Center’s program initiatives work to improve education, employment, and health outcomes for these 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:

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.