Leila’s Promise: Empowering Youth to Make a Difference

Ten-year-old Leila Harris is a change maker and the founder of Leila’s Promise, a nonprofit organization that empowers young people to be involved in the changes they wish to see in their world.

volunteers fill backpacks with supplies
Leila, her grandmother, great-great grandmother, and cousin filling backpacks with school supplies that were donated to students in Toledo during the Toledo Human Relations Commission Night Out. Photo by Leila’s Promise

From a very young age, Harris has been concerned with impacting her world in a positive way. In 2019, she asked her parents to give to those in need at Christmas rather than buy her gifts, and that’s how Harris and her mother came up with Leila’s Promise.

Leila’s Promise is dedicated to giving young people a platform to express their opinions regarding the issues that will affect them in the years to come. Its mission is that kindness in action and service to others is the key to a brighter future for all.

“I would like to see a world where people are kinder to each other,” shared Harris. “Everyone deserves to feel special and know they matter. I want other children to know they don’t need a lot to make a difference in their community. You can start by being kind. Kindness matters.”

donation check given to non-profit group
Leila’s Promise donated $500 to Family House Toledo. Leila pictured with Dr. Tonia Pace, Family House Executive Director. Photo by Leila’s Promise

Giving Back to the Community

While Leila’s Promise is dedicated to making a difference with projects focused on childhood hunger and homelessness, the organization is also dedicated to teaching youth about STEM education and careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Last year Leila’s Promise hosted and supported STEM programs in three countries including Liberia, Rwanda and here in Toledo.

“Making a difference inspires me to continue to give back to my community,” Harris shared. “I don’t always know who I’m helping or get to see them, but if there’s something I can do my family encourages and supports me.”

Reflecting on Leila’s involvement in the community, her mom shared that she is so grateful to be on this journey with her, providing the resources and guidance she needs.

“I am so proud of Leila. This is honestly just who she is,” shared Nazarene Tubman, Harris’s mom. “Leila is a kind, caring, outgoing and inquisitive 10-year-old. She enjoys all the regular things a child does, including Roblox, swimming and hanging out with her friends, but also sees opportunities to better her community and takes action on her own.”

volunteer makes care packages for homeless people
Leila pictured filling the 80 care packages/backpacks for our neighbors in downtown Toledo. Photo by Leila’s Promise

Upcoming Projects

Looking ahead to 2023, Harris has big plans including making care packages to distribute to people downtown. She is excited about plans for students from her school to help with projects this spring. She is also looking forward to getting more people together to volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Food for Thought. Another project for this year is to continue sending sanitary napkins to girls in Liberia.

“We started supporting girls in Liberia with sanitary napkins after we learned that many girls have to miss school every month because they don’t have supplies,” Harris shared. “We have provided supplies for girls to counselors at more than 15 schools.”

Lead By Example

For parents looking for ways to encourage their children to give back, Harris’s mom offers some simple advice.

“It is important that, as parents, we lead by example and teach our kids kindness. My mother modeled the importance of service for me and I wanted to instill the same for Leila,” Tubman added. “I would also like to encourage parents to listen to your children. Sometimes as adults we think we have all the answers, but I have found I learn so much from Leila when I truly listen.”

Leila’s Promise is committed to making a positive impact in the world, but they can’t do it alone. To learn more about making a donation or getting involved with an upcoming project visit leilaspromise.org or follow Leila’s Promise on Facebook and Instagram.