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NSLS Grant Semi-Finalist Becomes Agent of Change

Darryl Johnson graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a master’s degree in psychology, something he'll use to continue advocating for others.

Darryl took a different path than most in order to become an agent of change, which is such an integral part of his personal mission that those words are in his nonprofit organization's (NPO) name, The Path: An Agent of Change, Inc. 

“I won second place in pursuing the NSLS United by Purpose grant, and with integrity to my purpose, used the funding to start The Path: An Agent of Change, Inc. as a 509(a)2 nonprofit organization.”

Darryl’s desire to create meaningful change is centered around the importance of leadership skills in transforming lives and circumstances. He’s committed to thinking broadly about the best ways to serve others

“As part of my work with The Path, I launched an internship program to allow students to use their voice while pursuing their education. I also launched an adult mentoring program called Project #life that pulls a team of CEOs and executives together to help willing individuals to achieve at least one goal after participating in our SMART goals workshop. We also began to offer life-skill courses in underrepresented communities to cultivate a collective leadership mindset.”

Walking a Path Toward Big Opportunities

Achieving lofty goals such as systemic change for a large portion of your community across ages and circumstances the way Darryl did requires forethought and sequential planning. For Darryl, securing necessary funding through the NSLS United by Purpose grant was the last step to achieving his goals. 

“The first step I had to take was to find the vision that communicated my life’s purpose. Once I had the outlines of that vision, I needed to actively change my life to become that vision, solidifying my purpose within myself.”

Purpose-driven leadership goes hand-in-hand with helping others reach big goals. Once the vision that fuels that purpose has been defined, the next steps involve taking practical steps designed to manifest that purpose through concrete actions. 

“The third step was to tailor my educational experience at SNHU to my purpose. I was reinforcing my academic success. That’s why my fourth step was joining the NSLS to learn more and discover deeper parts of leadership.”

In order to achieve his goals and successfully launch both his NPO and its core constituent initiatives, Darryl needed to draw on specific leadership skills that the NSLS helped him grow and develop. 

“I needed three skills in particular: research and development, executive leadership abilities, and techniques for developing SMART goals. The Executive leadership course helped me organize my leadership and work better with others.”

What’s Next for Darryl and The Path

Like any driven leader, Darryl is already thinking about his next steps personally, professionally, and on behalf of The Path. He’s also mindful of the practical challenges he’ll likely face along the way. 

“Hopefully, we can raise funding to start a research institute for students of all races to have an opportunity to use their educational experience to heal our nation, ideally through grant writing and philanthropy."

As a realist, he can foresee the challenges that are bound to come along the way. 

"Statistics suggest that NPOs like mine are least likely to be funded due to ongoing systemic issues. I plan to achieve this goal through like-minded partnerships with other individuals and groups that can help me gain access to vital resources.”

Darryl’s Advice for Future Leaders

Smart leaders know how important it is to learn from the examples set by others. Darryl says he received lots of advice during his journey, including one that strongly resonates today. 

“Purpose is a resource that fuels you for a lifetime. If you allow purpose to move you, you’ll always be doing the right thing. Discover your purpose.”

For future leaders who may be following in his footsteps, Darryl offers yet another piece of wisdom based on a commonly shared value for many Gen Z students and young people—the importance of authenticity in everything you do. 

“Lead by the most authentic version of the example you want to set in every instance. Leadership is more than a title. It’s a way of life.”

For another story of a strong leader helping to solve problems and make dreams come true, listen to this Motivational Mondays episode, featuring Simone Gordon of the Black Fairy Godmother Platform. 

If you haven’t applied yet, the NSLS scholarship and grant application deadline for spring is March 23, 2023.