Southside Young Leaders Academy (SYLA)

Our mission is to address social and educational inequalities by empowering Black African and African Caribbean boys through a programme of character education, life skills and academic support to foster the skills, resilience, and leadership required to pursue positive life paths.

Grant awarded: £25,000 a year for 3 years: 2022-2025 - unrestricted; Cost of Living uplift grant for Year 2 £1,975

SYLA provides a structured Young Leaders Programme for boys of Black African or Caribbean heritage in Southwark and Lambeth, inspiring boys to fulfil their potential and live out their career dreams and aspirations. During the term, around 30 boys attend a Saturday programme that includes sessions on character-building/confidence, public speaking, conflict management, entrepreneurship, social action, life skills and careers. SYLA has a wide range of partners its including with Team Up (Maths and English), LSE’s Advancing Black Careers programme and Let’s Talk Money (financial literacy). SYLA also works with parents and carers including with the Clerk Associates programme that encourages people to take on local roles of responsibility including as school governors.  

The Young Leaders Programme has support from parents, carers and local leaders including the Mayor of Southwark who shared stories of the difference it is making, at SYLA’s annual achievement award day in July 2023 – powerful testimonies were also heard from the boys themselves, along with alumni of the programme who are becoming increasingly involved as mentors. SYLA appointed a new CEO two years ago and there is now a strengthened Board with new trustees stepping up to fill key posts and access to important networks, and a new three-year strategy in place. 

The challenges and lack of opportunities that Black African and Caribbean boys face can sometimes leave them with a sense of frustration, anger, and low self-esteem. This means the astonishing talent of these boys risks going to waste. SYLA aims to change that narrative - Charlotte Prendergast, CEO, SYLA


SYLA website