Supporting Our Young Leaders (SOYL) In Real Life

The work of an organization doesn’t end with its founders.  It is successively passed down through generations to support and inspire future leaders who walk similar paths.  Each generation needs the connection, opportunity, and network to start their own journey. By having these tools, they begin to shrink the gap between those who are at an advantage and those who are at a disadvantage. Once the gap is shrunk, we see equality within the community. 

The Syracuse community needs this culture of creativity, innovation and inclusion. This is what Supporting Our Young Leaders (SOYL) is about. Launched in 2016 by Kevin Claiborne G ’16 School of Education, SOYL incubated in the LaunchPad and has now taken on a new direction with Seth Dollar Colton as the director. SOYL’s vision is to provide the next generation of leaders the tools needed to develop a career or become entrepreneurs. He is working with Syracuse University students and alumni, area entrepreneurs, educators and civic leaders, and local high school students to do that.

The journey to accomplish this mission starts with the newly launched website,, designed by Victoria Lawson ’20 VPA School of Design, who is founder of Weird & Woke Design, a full-service design practice located on the west coast.  Lawson started her business as a student in the LaunchPad where she was also a Global Media Fellow, mentoring other students and providing a full-array of design services to start up ventures, as well as serving as the LaunchPad’s in-house designer.

The new website is an interactive platform for young leaders and supporters from the community to register for career discussions, employment opportunities, personal workshops, and of special significance, SOYL’s digital series, IRL.

IRL stands for In Real Life and it creates immersive programming to share the stories of entrepreneurs within New York State. Through digitally capturing their daily experience, SOYL strives to connect experienced leaders with younger generations.

The first episode of IRL is now available and features Al-Amin Muhammad and his organization, We Rise Above the Streets.  Each episode will be hosted by Shakira Santos, a Syracuse-native majoring in Music Industry at Syracuse University. The first episode talks about how Al-Amin founded his organization and how he became passionate about ending homelessness and hunger.  Watch his episode to explore how he inspires future young leaders to advocate for the lives of those in need.

SOYL In Real Life: Al Amin-Muhammad

Al Amin-Muhammad will be a part of a bigger initiative at SOYL through our curated workshops. These workshops are a part of IRL and feature photo/video, screen-printing, merchandising, and web and graphic design opportunities amongst others.

To register for our workshops and stay in tune with SOYL, visit

Story by LaunchPad special correspondent Anthony Obas ’20 Whitman, founder of Guided by Obas, a marketing consultancy that works with emerging brands to help them become more profitable, sustainable, and likable businesses through brand image, content development and digital storytelling.  He is the author of “Shifting Your Music Into a Career” and also works with SOYL on program development.