Teddy McDaniel remembers the moment when he discovered his love of learning. He was in middle school in Ohio, and a lesson on Black history opened his eyes.
“That was when the light turned on for me,” he says. “I believe if you can get students through that transition period and prepare them for high school, you can have some real success.”
Now, as leader of the Austin Area Urban League (AAUL), McDaniel is working to equip African Americans and all underserved populations with the tools to achieve economic and social equality.
One critical tool for success, McDaniel notes, is education. That’s why the AAUL has taken President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative into the fold.
As the AAUL works toward meeting Obama’s challenge to eliminate the educational barriers faced by young men of color, they are supporting a number of education pipeline programs within the DDCE, including Project MALES, the African American Male Research Initiative and the Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights.
With their second-annual SXSWedu My Brother’s Keeper Community Dialogue event now in the rear-view, it’s McDaniel’s goal to keep pushing the initiative forward.
“There is a lot of work to be done,” says McDaniel, who is leading the middle school education sub-committee within the AAUL’s Greater Austin Area MBK Initiative. “SXSW cannot be the end; it has to be the start of what’s to come.”
Although he initially got his start in a lucrative finance career, he has no regrets about his bold career move to community service.
“It’s certainly a calling for me,” McDaniel says. “You have to ask yourself, what are your interests and passions in your community? Find yours, volunteer and get involved.”