Economics 21: Neighborhood Leadership Academy Launching Opportunities in St. Louis


A trip to the grill for Darren Young these days is about much more than just a meal.  It’s the place community organizer, youth pastor, entrepreneur, and chef all meet.

The Neighborhood Leadership Academy is improving communities one project at a time through a neighborhood education program that has quietly been operating in St. Louis for nearly two decades.  They have another set of graduates ramping up in south St. Louis with a combination of good food and jobs for teens. Young and his wife, Charlene Lopez-Young, completed the program in autumn of 2018.

“How do we look at our gifts?” he asks when talking about his new project.  “How do we also recognize our weaknesses, but how do we leverage the things that we’re naturally good at?  For me that’s when the light bulb came on.”  Finding a way to take all those strengths and put them to one use began when he and Lopez-Young signed up for the Neighborhood Leadership Academy (NLA), a joint venture between the University of Missouri Extension and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  At the NLS, participants come with an idea for a community project, and learn how to best execute it.

The couple wanted to do something to help their south St. Louis neighborhood – they just weren’t sure what it would or should look like.  “We love food, but we love people more,” Lopez-Young said.  “So that is woven out throughout our business plan, throughout our mission statement, throughout everything that the Fattened Caf does.”  Through the Filipino barbecue food service business the launched with the assistance of the NLA, they will be partnering with the St. Louis Public Schools and helping kids they were already working with in their “day jobs”.

Student Tools

Student Tool 66: Video Reflection Worksheet

Students can use this activity on their own to share their learning and insights about any video they watch independently, and this Student Tool can also be used in conjunction with Teacher Tool 318: Sharing Your Insights Through A Reflection Worksheet as part of a classroom or homeschool activity. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.


Teacher Tools

Teacher Tool 318: Cross Curricular Activity--Video Reflection

This teacher tool, accompanying the video above, provides an Interdisciplinary activity that invites students to complete a reflection worksheet to share learning and insights they gained by watching the video. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.


Teacher Tool 704: Independent Research Activity--Agents of Change

Download this teacher tool for a research activity related to creating a business plan for their new enterprise focused on social entrepreneurship. This activity accompanies the following videos: Economics-20, Economics-21, Economics-22.