Leadership Division

Chamber Champions

Qaijuan Willis
Leadership Division Chair
City of Americus, Main Street

Chamber Champions is a youth leadership development program that informs, motivates, and increases the awareness of selected high school juniors through interaction with community leaders.  The program is an investment in the community’s future leadership.  These students must be nominated by their teachers and principals and approval must come from school administration and each student’s parents.  Students are selected based on a genuine interest in learning leadership skills, working together as a team, and showing leadership in school and community activities.  It is important to have a cultural balance with students from diverse backgrounds to build individual leadership skills, foster positive group dynamics and increase civic and community involvement while creating youth development and youth leadership. 

Since the first graduating class in 2015, more than 175 students have successfully completed the program.  Chamber Champions Youth Leadership program is an initiative targeting juniors.  Participants are chosen based on a list of criteria set forth by the Leadership Development Division.  The youth initiative keeps a similar focus as the chamber, which is private sector support, growth, and jobs and preparing students for the private sector.  The program supplies educational and firsthand experience to expose students to these realms.

Through a series of sessions combining lectures and tours, students learn about such topics as: Area business men and women are involved and help host and/or teach the modules which include: Understanding Leadership, Communicating Effectively, Appreciating Differences, Building Teams, Managing Conflict, Setting Goals and Making Decisions, Mapping Your Community, Exercising Leadership.  Chamber Champions is a collaboration between the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, and   curriculum-based leadership skills training utilizing materials from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

What is the process to be accepted?

The selection process begins in February with application information being sent to each school.  Using the program objectives and eligibility requirements as a guideline, individual educators nominate their student of choice.  Potential participants are asked to complete an application and supply two letters of reference from a community leader and an educator.

In March, applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of business members of the community and educators.  The Selection Committee strives to achieve balance in the class by ensuring diversity of race/ethnicity, gender, and schools.  All applicants will be notified of the selected in April of each year.

Who is eligible?

Class members are chosen by their own merits based upon their application.  The committee chooses eight rising juniors from Sumter County High School, Furlow Charter School and Southland Academy.

Due to the COVID-19 Virus Applications are NOW being accepted through July 15th.  Click Here for the Chamber Champions Application for 2020-2021 school year.

What is the commitment?

Chamber Champions begins every August with a Parent/Student Orientation and Reception.  Students meet for six (6) programs with graduation occurring in April or early May.  Each program is from 9:00am to 2:00 pm and is an excused absence from school.

100% participation and completion are mandatory to graduate from Chamber Champions.  (Exceptions can be approved through the Chamber Leadership Division.  Any Module missed will be given to student to review and author a report on the topic.)   This is a serious time commitment, and participants not complying with the attendance requirement will be dismissed from the program.

Chamber Champions is coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Division.  The program is designed to serve students from Americus-Sumter County High School South Campus, Furlow Charter School, Southland Academy, and the Americus Region Christian Home Educators (ARCHE). 

Students must be nominated by their teachers and principals and approval must come from school administration and each student’s parents.  Students are selected on their genuine interest in learning about leadership skills and working together as a team, and demonstration of leadership in school and community activities.  It is important to have a cultural balance with students from diverse backgrounds.  This initiative targets 20-25 students for one day per month for 6 months. 

Topics covered during these sessions will include Self-Presentation & Customer Service Training, Time & Stress Management and Robert’s Rules of Order, Personal and Business Finance, How to Start a Business, Marketing a Business and Product, and Higher Education Exposure. These modules will be instrumental in developing our future workforce.  CRITERIA: Student must have a minimum of a 3.0 academic average, be involved in a one or more extra-curricular activities, must complete an essay on how the private sector leads a community.  The essay must be a minimum of 150 words and must be given with application.  Currently, the program is serving 20 students: 8 from Americus-Sumter High South Campus and 12 from Southland Academy.  During the summer months, students collected volunteer service hours to turn in with scholarship.

Leadership Sumter (COMING 2021)

Strong leadership is a key ingredient in the continuing development of a thriving community.  The Sumter County Chamber’s Leadership Sumter Program educates emerging and existing leaders to be integral players in the future of our community.