Chris Suggs has spent years working to give young people a voice and improving his hometown for thousands of teenagers. Now, a fellowship from Facebook will allow the Carolina sophomore to take his efforts to a new level.
Suggs, the CEO of Kinston Teens and Youth Impact Strategies, was selected as a Youth Fellow for Facebook’s yearlong Community Leadership Program. He was one of 15 people selected in September for the fellowship program – a global initiative that invests in people building communities.
“I’m truly grateful and excited that Facebook chose me to participate in their new Community Leadership Program,” said Suggs, who is majoring in political science and minoring in religious studies. “It means so much to be selected, and to know that Facebook sees and supports what I’m doing in my community.”
The program’s 15 fellows are community leaders who are working to build meaningful communities. They receive support and grants, in-person networking, community opportunities with other program fellows and access to experts and a leadership development curriculum.
“Since [announcing the program] we received more than 6,000 applications from all over the world,” said Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships at Facebook, in a press release. “A selection committee, which included employees as well as community experts from outside of Facebook, reviewed each application so we could identify leaders with a strong, clear and committed vision for their community.”
The Facebook fellowship will be a continuation of the mission Suggs began four years ago in his hometown of Kinston, North Carolina.
As a 14-year-old, Sugg launched the nonprofit Kinston Teens to intersect youth empowerment and community development. The organization aims to empower young people through a strengthened community and civic engagement.
“I’ll be working with Facebook staff and other leaders selected for this program [to get] direct support and training on the different issues I work on in the community,” said Suggs. “I think it’s amazing.”
Suggs will be awarded up to $50,000 to put toward his work with Kinston Teens. The program plans to use the funds for community revitalization and youth leadership training.
The funds will allow Suggs to continue serving his community — a passion fueled by his experiences at Carolina.
“I feel like service is engrained in the culture here at Carolina,” he said. “Since being here, I’ve just been able to grow as a leader and it’s really helped with the work I’ve started with Kinston Teens and Youth Impact Strategies.”