Baltimore Public Speaking Challenge

Urban Alliance Baltimore hosted its annual culminating event, the Public Speaking Challenge, at the University of Baltimore on July 23, 2013. 33 Interns arrived at the University of Baltimore’s business school, dressed professionally and ready to meet the challenge of delivering their first formal PowerPoint presentation to a large and daunting audience. The audience included local business leaders, mentors, school counselors, funders, Urban Alliance Board members, and other stakeholders, 16 of whom judged the Interns’ presentations on content, diction, and professional presentation.  Four Urban Alliance Alumni volunteered their time to be judges for the presentations.  In an effort to incentivize hard work and to communicate to the youth that success in the professional world is merit-based,  Urban Alliance awards a $100 bonus to Interns earning a score of 80% or higher on their presentations.  Presentations focus on the Intern’s experience with Urban Alliance over the program year:  this allows the Interns to be the subject matter experts, reporting on such information as their job site’s mission, their mentor’s path to success, what they learned, challenges, accomplishments, and how their expectations for a professional workplace differed from the reality of their experience.  Interns also presented their post-secondary plans.


In addition to the Interns’ presentations, the Public Speaking Challenge featured an awards breakfast, including the presentation of scholarships to outstanding Interns as well as a respected keynote speaker. John Hope Bryant delivered a heartfelt and dynamic message to the Interns and stakeholders. It was a pleasure and honor to have him participate in such an important moment in the lives of Urban Alliance youth. Bryant is founder, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Operation HOPE. He is a philanthropic entrepreneur, businessman and best-selling author, in business empowerment. He gave all the Interns an autographed copy of his book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), which debuted on the CEO Reads Top 10 Best Seller List, and was #1 on the “Hottest New Books” List.  Urban Alliance Baltimore has used Operation HOPE’s Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program for the past two years consisting of four modules; dignity, budgeting basics, checking and savings, and credit and investments.


Urban Alliance was fortunate to be able to award scholarships to some of the most noteworthy Interns in the class of 2013.  One Intern, Breonna, received Urban Alliance’s most special award, the Intern Excellence Award, which is accompanied by a $900 scholarship to assist her with the costs associated with her continued education. Breonna earned her scholarship with her outstanding performance as an Intern and her work as a member of the Intern Leadership Team. She displayed a positive attitude both at work and workshop, and performed excellent work in the Simulation Lab, where she worked with mechanical robots to prepare simulation stations for nursing students. Breonna will attend Towson University in the fall, where she will major in Nursing.  Other awards included a $300 scholarship for Best Attitude, given to an Intern named William. He performed extremely well, and his mentor and colleagues often commented on his positive attitude and generous spirit. William will attend Bowie State University and major in Accounting. The $300 scholarship for Best Attendance was awarded to Kayla, who performed exceptionally well as an Intern at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Over the course of ten months, she only missed two days of work and two workshops. Kayla will attend Coppin State University in the fall and major in Nursing. Finally, an Intern named Renard received the Perseverance Award and a $300 scholarship. Despite the many personal challenges he experienced throughout his internship, he persevered and successfully completed the internship. Renard will attend Community College of Baltimore County in the fall as a Computer Science major.


Not all of Urban Alliance Baltimore’s success stories were limited to the Public Speaking Challenge, and in fact, one in particular stands out.  Urban Alliance’s partnership with Wide Angle Youth Media gave Intern Ykitta, an outlet and a voice:  her primary duties were scripting, producing, and editing films, and production setup. Over the course of her internship, she improved as an editor and found her own creative solutions to problems she encountered. According to her mentor, “she has definitely grown more skilled and comfortable with public speaking, and she has done a great job representing our organization in public.” Ykitta won the April Montebon Award for Innovation, in addition to her certificate of completion for the Mentoring Video Project. She plans to attend school full time at Community College of Baltimore County, and her films may be viewed here:


Ykitta’s Films


Ykitta’s Blog Spot