Black Educator Puts the Spotlight on the Next Generation of Youth Leaders During COVID-19 Pandemic


Nationwide — When Dr. Candice Lucas-Bledsoe realized that her annual Cutting Edge Youth Summit with over 300 students, parents, teachers, and community leaders would not take place this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to pivot. She decided instead to put the spotlight on the next generation of youth leaders during a virtual summit that would continue to motivate and energize youth leaders.

“During these unprecedented times, innovative solutions can inspire students,” says Dr. Candice.

After years of community building, Dr. Bledsoe had joined in with the executive leadership team to create an educational series that includes innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and academic readiness. After completing a 12 month curriculum, students would present their innovative practices though the Cutting Edge Youth Summit during April 2020. When the coronavirus pandemic began, the executive leadership team quickly developed the Virtual Cutting Edge Youth Summit to continue to motivate and energize the students.

The Virtual Cutting Edge Youth Summit provides an opportunity for students, parents, and community leaders to connect during these unprecedented times. Special virtual addresses include scholars and leaders such as: Dr. Michelle Turner, Executive Director of the USC Black Alumni Association, The Honorable Tonya Parker of Dallas County, WFAA’s Ed Gray, Ana Rodriguez, Managing Director of the SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative, and many more.

Students are engaged in this unique virtual conference through programming and via social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The summit inspires youth leaders to execute leadership strategies, problem solving, and design. Dr. Candice Bledsoe, is founder of the summit and the executive director of the Action Research Center. She also holds appointments at SMU as faculty for the SMU Cox School of Business, Simmons School of Education, and Director of Research & Communications at the SMU Hunt Institute in the Lyle School of Engineering.