Aaron M. Harris

Aaron M. Harris

Executive Director                 

Ferguson Youth Initiative                  

St. Louis         

Marquette High School

University of Missouri-Columbia, BA

Regional Youth Employment Council

Good Multiplier

Tell us about the mission and work of the Ferguson Youth Initiative and your role.

The mission of the Ferguson Youth Initiative is to empower teens from Ferguson and surrounding communities to become productive, positive and contributing members of the community.  Our programming is determined by the Ferguson Youth Advisory Board which is a group of 10 teens from the area that meets monthly.  We offer empowering opportunities for teens such as S.L.A.M which is an open mic night for teens to artistically express themselves.  In addition to the Youth Board and S.L.A.M, we provide teens Next Steps which is a program that provides career readiness through a six week program as well as college scholarships workshops.  Finally, we provide after school programs where teens can interact and be themselves in a safe space.

What are some of the community partnerships you’ve built to support the Ferguson Youth Initiative?

We’ve partnered with SSM Health to provide a pathway following Next Steps that could lead to employment, as well as partnering with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. to offer a more interactive S.L.A.M event.  Finally, we partnered with Operation Prom Night to assist High Schoolers with ensuring they look their best for Prom.  Operation Prom Night provides any teen with the prom necessities to look great on your prom night. We also worked with the Honorable Hazel Erby as our co-chair to celebrate our 10th Anniversary on April 18th.

Much of your career has been focused on helping young people. What brought that work into focus for you?

My goal was to enroll in Law School, however in reality I was hired by the Fathers’ Support Center St. Louis as a part time mentor for a new youth program in 2010.  Through that employment opportunity I learned how much I liked working with youth because they reminded me of myself and other teens.

Tell us about your service with Healthworks Kids Museum and why it’s a great destination for kids?

I am still in my infant stage as a board member with Healthworks! Working with a great CEO in Shannon Laine helps me sharpen my skills.  Before I joined the Board of Directors I took my son and watched how excited he was to play on the attractions.  Through each attraction at Healthworks! anyone can learn a lot about the Human Body, Oral Health and Body Hygiene.

What is St. Louis’ most underrated destination or attraction?

The Last Hotel

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