“The day I saw five boys drop out of school was the day I knew I had to make a change.”
The Champions of Learning Awards are a collaboration between the Consortium for Public Education and United Way’s Be There Campaign, that recognize adults in western Pennsylvania who go above and beyond to create opportunities and motivate students to meet their greatest potential. United Way’s Be There initiative promotes excellent school attendance to students so they will have greater success in school and more opportunities following graduation. Brenda Lockley was the Leadership winner at the 2019 Champions of Learning event for going above and beyond for local kids at Melting Pot Ministries.
When it comes to the future of her community’s children, Brenda Lockey is not one to sit quietly on the sidelines.
Growing up, Brenda’s mother dedicated her life to ensuring her kids had the tools to lead successful lives. Through this experience, Brenda recognized the impact a positive role model could have on a child.
A few decades later, Brenda came face-to-face with a situation that quickly transformed her empathy into something much more powerful.
The afternoon Brenda learned that five boys in South Park Township dropped out of high school was the day that would change her life forever. Frustrated at this news, Brenda contacted the boys’ school to see what happened, but was told by the administration, “It is too late for these boys; there is nothing you can do.”
Refusing to accept the schools’ response as a ‘solution,’ Brenda, along with parents, community advocates, and church leaders, worked together to create a grass-roots organization dedicated to preventing such issues, and in 2004, Melting Pot Ministries was formed. Melting Pot Ministries’ programming offers a comprehensive and holistic approach to development for underprivileged youths.
“A promising future doesn’t end with success in the classroom; it’s also about forming strong relationships and helping out at home,” shared Brenda.
Taking a page from her own family’s example, Brenda has spearheaded programs dedicated to bringing parents and children together, focusing on communication between parents and children.
“Witnessing the children grow as people both inside and outside of the classroom reminds me why I created Melting Pot Ministries in the first place,” Brenda said.
Every year, Melting Pot Ministries reaches more than 150 socially, culturally, and economically disadvantaged youth and families. Now entering its fifteenth year, 93% of the students in her program have graduated from high school and have gone on to seek some form of higher education, a statistic Brenda knows her mother would be extremely proud to see.
For her service to the children in our community, United Way is proud to honor Brenda as a Champions of Learning “Be There” Awards winner. To learn more, visit https://uwswpa.org/be-there.