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Our Mission:

E2L's mission is to develop and empower urban students to achieve their full potential and become thriving leaders who positively impact our communities.

History and need served

Founded in 1995, Essential2Life is dedicated to improving the plight of urban youth in metro Atlanta.


The current generation of youth lacks the leadership skills to be positive voices for their peers. One of the toughest obstacles for students living in the margin is having access to proper leadership skills (self leadership as well as leadership of others) and to post-secondary education. According to the National Center for Education, approximately 60% of youth living in poverty conditions will drop out of school – a rate six times that of students living in middle to upper-class households. Those who fall under this category are considered at risk.

While others write this problem off as "unsolvable," we see this challenge as an opportunity to instill critical leadership skills in students who will have a profound impact in their homes and communities. With the right tools, these students can represent a positive voice for their peers as they pursue a life of purpose and distinction.

E2L Staff

Darrick Graham, Executive Director

Patrice Holt, Program Coordinator

Rigoberto Rivera, Class of 2025 Team Lead

Sainabou Njie, Class of 2024 Team Lead

Dreleon Jones, “15 Program” Intern-Supported by GSU Work Study Program, Class of 2020 “15 Program Graduate

Board of Directors

Brett Duke (2019) Chairman of the Board/President

Chief Operating Officer

Atlanta Pacific Companies

Duluth, Georgia

Gladys Wanyeki (2023)

Principal, Founder and CFO


Atlanta, Georgia

Michael Landtroop (2023)

Vice President, Partners & Alliances

One Inc

Marietta, Georgia

John Dilworth (2021)

Founder and CEO

The Dilworth Group

Atlanta, Georgia

LaToya Dwight (2019)

Willis Towers Watson

Atlanta, Georgia

A letter from our Executive Director

Darrick Graham

As I think about what Vince and Allison have accomplished in the hearts and minds of countless youth in our community, I’m am honored and humbled to be a part of E2L 2.0!

We love our city and we love our youth.  Our future lies within the hearts of our youth and it’s our responsibility to prepare them for the challenges ahead.  But there's a silent killer that is attacking our young people.  The countless temptations to distract them from receiving the necessary education, educational inequality, poverty and much more leave countless youth at-risk and underserved.  Too many youth have no hope for a future and that is not acceptable!

Together we will continue to restore their hope and be a bridge for the better tomorrow we all hope for.  Please join me and this amazing E2L team who are passionate about empowering our young people.  I look forward to the day, when everyone has an equal chance for a bright and thriving future.

Because they matter!

Darrick Graham

Essential2life Executive Director

Darrick Graham (2016)

Former Assistant Vice President

Operation Hope

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Vince Hungate (1995)



Atlanta, Georgia

Patricia Dampf Sklar (2016)



Brookhaven, Georgia

Mark VanderBroek (2010) Immediate Past President


Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough LLP

Smyrna, Georgia

The FIFTEEN Program

FIFTEEN is a 2.5 year program which meets every other Saturday on a college campus during the school year. FIFTEEN’s interactive curriculum is designed around the core values of character, commitment, life-long learning, and servant leadership. It covers the following topics, among others:


  • Life Skills (visioning, character, personal self-discipline and responsibility, priority management)

  • Leadership Skills (collaboration, managing conflict, seeking to understand, personal branding)

  • Personal Finance (budgeting, bank accounts, debt, savings, etc.)

  • Post-secondary school education planning (college vs. trade school, college selection, application process, SAT/ACT prep, cost of attendance, financial support)

  • Career Planning (career choices, career aptitude testing, education requirements, interviewing skills, etc.)

  • Role models (guest speakers, mentors, facilitators in the class room)

  • Service (community service opportunities, empowering to make a difference)

E2L’s impressive results: participating students not only succeed in and graduate from high school (at a 100% rate), but also go on to college (89%) or the military (6%).


Additional Link
990 Link

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