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2019 Lightner Y Achiever Banquet

More than 500 community leaders, parents and teens celebrated future leaders at the 16th annual Clarence E. Lightner Y Achievers banquet on May 2 at the Raleigh Convention Center. The event was a celebration filled with hope and legacy as guest speaker, recording artist and social-thought leader Sho Baraka inspired graduating seniors to Empower More, Achieve More, Be More, Serve More.

Baraka is a member of Humble Beast and serves as the Executive DIrector of Teminus Collective, a network that is active in civic and cultural innovation.


Y Achievers Mark Alston Jr., Alexis Blue, Gabby Davis, and Julian Sansom Goodman shared highlights of this year’s LYA program.

  • 40 LYA teens along with six chaperones attended the LYA college tour in Atlanta
  • EightLYA teens attended the NC YMCA Youth & Government Conference
  • The annual LYA College Day served more than 250 YMCA of the Triangle teens
  • More than 30 LYA teens work at YMCA After School and Summer Day Camp programs
  • Teen Achievers and Adult Volunteers have completed more than 2,500 hours of community service
  • Eight teens participated in the FLL/FTC Robotics program


Graduating seniors were recognized by Kendall Harris, Senior Director of the Lightner Y Achievers Program. The teens have a collective GPA of 3.56 and have participated in the program since middle school. The students were presented with a special cord to wear with their gown at graduation. 

"I have no doubt, this group of young men and women will excel, and I hope one day they will return to this program to invest in the future generations," said Harris.


Adult volunteers power the Y Achievers program. These volunteers carry on the legacy of Clarence E. Lightner:

  • Whykeshia White, Clarence E. Lightner Y Achievers Youth Leadership Award
  • Capitol City Gold Association, Clarence E. Lightner Y Achievers Leadership Award


The Clarence E. Lightner Y Achievers program helps minority teens in grades 6 – 12 succeed in middle school, high school, college and beyond. The program is named for Clarence E. Lightner, the first and, to date, only African-American to serve as Raleigh’s mayor. Lightner was a visionary leader who was respected by the entire community. Today, more than 100 middle and high school students from across the Triangle participate in the Lightner Y Achievers program and learn the importance of civic participation, college readiness and community service.