Schumacher makes $1.3 million match challenge for ‘Leader in Me’

Amount represents half of what is needed to ensure expansion into 90 percent or more of the public schools in Acadia, Lafayette, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes.

Dr. Kip Schumacher hugs Zhoriél Tapo, a Plantation Elementary student enrolled in The Leader in Me program, as UWA board member Rob Eddy looks on.
Photo by Paul Kieu

“The Leader in Me” program is one step closer to finding its way into schools across the Acadiana region. In late February United Way of Acadiana announced to a packed house of supporters at its Annual Awards Breakfast a $1.3 million challenge match from the Schumacher Family Foundation.

The amount, the largest-ever gift to UWA by a single donor, represents half of what is needed to ensure expansion into 90 percent or more of the public schools in Acadia, Lafayette, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes.

Dr. William “Kip” Schumacher, on behalf of the family foundation, challenged everyone at the breakfast to “dig deep” and help support the effort to create lasting positive change in area communities.

“What The Leader in Me does is teach children to empower themselves, to manage their learning, to manage their futures — to learn how to be good husbands and wives and employees, and ultimately good citizens of the community,” Schumacher said. “Giving away money is easy. Giving away money in a way that makes a difference is not. Smart philanthropy is getting results … and The Leader in Me is a no- brainer.”

The program, based on Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, impacts an entire school. In announcing the gift, United Way board member Rob Eddy commented that “the results that are often achieved in the first year of implementation, and the compelling success stories from students and their families have shown the The Leader in Me is a sound investment.”

In partnership with UWA, One Acadiana has recently included The Leader in Me as part of its regional workforce development strategy. “In particular, Dr. Schumacher’s investment in the Leader In Me will make a substantial, scalable, long-term impact in addressing the ‘soft skills’ issue that concerns so many business leaders in our region,” said Jason El Koubi, president and CEO of One Acadiana.

Other individuals and organizations were honored at the Awards Breakfast for their contributions and support of United Way of Acadiana through workplace and corporate giving and volunteerism in 2016, both before and after the August flood. Luminary Awards were given to IberiaBank, The Daily Advertiser, Shift Key, KLFY TV-10 and Blake Lagneaux for their work in creating the Bucket Brigade groundroots fundraising campaign last December. The Torian Award — the highest award given for campaign excellence — went to Acadian Companies for exemplifying the spirit of giving through their 2016 annual campaign. They were also a top performing company, ranking first in the top five in giving in all of Acadiana and a Campaign Gold Award recipient.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser served as keynote speaker of the breakfast event, and Gov. John Bel Edwards — detained at the time in the special legislative session — send a pre-recorded video message to fellow United Way supporters.