Promise Team Spotlight - Cyekeia Lee0
With all of the success that The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise) has had over the years, it is important to note the community support that the organization has received. This month’s Promise Team Spotlight features a staff member who is instrumental in forming and maintaining these community relationships. Meet Cyekeia Lee, Director of Community Relations.
Lee previously worked in education, serving as the Executive Director of the Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo. When the opportunity to join The Promise arose, she was excited to continue her work in a similar role.
“Seeing students get the help and support that they need is so encouraging,” Lee said. “I love that even kindergarteners know what The Promise is and what it means to them.”
Although she is excited that students are recognizing the resources that The Promise entails, Lee understands that the continued cultivation of community support is crucial for students to effectively capitalize on their opportunities.
“Students have the benefit of The Promise; however, we need to make sure that they also receive support from the community when taking the next step with their education,” she stated.
In her current capacity, Lee works with cross-sector partners to discover different collaborative efforts for students throughout Kalamazoo. A shining example of Lee’s hard work can be seen in EmpowerHER College Signing Day (EmpowerHER), a joint project between The Promise and YWCA Kalamazoo.
EmpowerHER is an event that celebrates young women who are juniors or seniors in the Kalamazoo Public Schools and plan to continue their education beyond high school. These students were able to meet with a panel of speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds in order to better understand the opportunities that await after graduation.
The program also includes the opportunity to win additional college assistance. Two of the event’s participants receive $250 each in book vouchers from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, while three others are awarded $1,000 apiece for room and board by the Michigan Colleges Alliance.
Originally hailing from Romulus, Lee loves the inter-connective atmosphere of Kalamazoo.
“It is great being able to walk down the street and high-five the mayor,” she said. “People here do not hesitate when it comes to collaborating in order to bring about positive change.”
Outside of work, Lee loves to bake.
“I’m the office baker,” she stated proudly. “Whether it is cookies or cakes, I keep everyone’s caloric intake up. My favorite thing to bake is Girl Scout Thin Mint cupcakes.”
When asked about the future of The Promise, Lee indicated that she was looking forward to developing the organization’s partnerships further.
“As we continue to grow internally, we are always looking to strengthen our partnerships within the community,” she explained. “Not everyone sees themselves as a Promise partner, but we want to change that mindset. Whether it is businesses or after-school initiatives, we want everyone to see that their role is important to keeping The Promise.”
We couldn’t agree any more, Cyekeia!