HBCU Agents of Change: Tennessee State’s Lance Woods

Lance Woods works as a Dream Director with The Future Project―an organization that is building a movement to turn schools across the country into places that unlock the passion and purpose of everyone inside them. As a Dream Director, Lance has an opportunity every day at Cody High School-Academy of Public Leadership, to inspire students to become believers in their own futures and to courageously act on it.

He believes that the best life to live is one that empowers yourself and others and has led students in developing passion projects that have enhanced the culture of their school.

Woods was born and raised on the Westside of Detroit and is a proud graduate of Northwestern High School c/o 2006. Lance distinctly recalls few positive role models in his community. Although his family instilled positive values, it became his motivation to leave his community to attend Tennessee State University. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2012 with a degree in Business Administration w/ concentration in E-Business & Supply Chain Management. Lance has dedicated his life to serving and mentoring young people since returning to Detroit in 2014.

Lance is a committed member of several organizations including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated; Black Male Engagement (BMe) and Dave Bing’s Youth Institute. Lance is a recipient of The Spirit of Detroit Award and was also honored at the White House along with 62 other men with the President’s Volunteer Community Service Award (2016). He has been featured in the Detroit Free-Press as a “Best of Young Detroit” for leading the My Life Matters Campaign with his students at Cody. He also received the Community Champion Award from BMe- for displaying exceptional leadership and commitment to building a more caring and prosperous community in Detroit.

In 2015, Lance created a non-profit organization called S.W.A.G., Students Who Achieve Greatness. It is a college readiness & mentoring program designed to equip high school senior males with tools necessary for college and life. He has successfully graduated 12 young men from the program and provided them all with full suits, shirts, and ties as they entered their freshman year of college. He was the Keynote Speaker for Cody- Academy of Public Leadership’s 2016 commencement.

At Cody APL, Woods and his colleague, Mrs. Tracey Penick, conduct an HBCU Tour for their students. There is one catch: Cody APL students only visit HBCUs where they can successfully secure admission; the overwhelming majority of Cody APL students fall within the 2.0-2.75 grade point average. These students visit HBCUs that have provisional admissions. This tour is a life-changing concept because it empowers a demographic of students who, in most cases, are forgotten about or led in choosing a community college. This is an intentional example of what it looks like to be impactful, accessible, and a gateway to higher social mobility. In this year’s tour, students will be visiting Tennessee State University, Lane College, Lemoyne-Owen College, Harris-Stowe State University, and Lincoln University of Missouri.

Woods is dedicated and passionate about serving the Detroit community because he wants to see young people from the city that look like him win! To learn more about Students Who Achieve Greatness (S.W.A.G.), you may email StudentsWhoAchieveGreatness@gmail.com.

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