United Supermarkets Pledges $1 Million to Support United Future Leaders

United Supermarkets pledged a $1 million gift to support Texas Tech University’s new Center for Prevention and Resiliency in implementing and evaluating a character-building program for children and young adults.

Written by Cory Chandler

United Supermarkets pledged a $1 million gift today to support Texas Tech University’s new Center for Prevention and Resiliency in implementing and evaluating a character-building program for children and young adults.

The program, United Future Leaders, will promote qualities such as civility, ethics and leadership to help Lubbock grade school students navigate challenges and temptations inherent in transitioning to middle school. United will pay the pledge at a rate of $200,000 per year for the next five years.

"We are delighted to partner with the Center for Prevention and Resiliency in the establishment of the United Future Leaders program," said Dan Sanders, CEO of United Supermarkets Ltd. "For more than 90 years, United has been a training ground for young people interested in learning about leadership. It is truly one of the most gratifying aspects of our business – knowing that so many of our young people go on to make a positive impact in the communities in which they live."

The five-year agreement begins spring 2007, when fifth graders from Rush and Murfee Elementary Schools will participate in a six-week pilot. Upon the pilot’s completion, students, parents, school personnel and United Future Leaders facilitators will evaluate the program and oversee planning for expanded implementation in additional schools beginning this fall.

"United Supermarkets’ generous gift will help us realize a long-held dream to create a program that will equip our kids to become champions in their own lives and the lives of others," said Kitty Harris Wilkes, co-director of the Center for Prevention and Resiliency. "The impact of this gift on the Lubbock community and its youth will be felt for many years to come."

Former Texas Tech women’s basketball Coach Marsha Sharp was instrumental in securing the funding and will help identify graduate assistants – some of them former Lady Raiders – who can readily connect with the children they will be mentoring.

A longtime champion of programs to boost confidence and self-esteem, Sharp applauded United Supermarkets’ generosity and has already begun promoting the United Future Leaders to parents and students. She envisions the initiative expanding until it affects enough children and young adults to positively impact the social culture in city high schools.

"My work with student athletes taught me that elements such as civility, ethics and leadership can provide a platform that kids can use to overcome challenges, whether on the court or in life," said Sharp, associate director for the program. "United Supermarkets has been crucial in making this vision achievable."

"United Supermarkets is grateful for the commitment of Dr. Harris Wilkes and coach Sharp to this innovative program," Sanders added. "We are confident this program will change the lives of young people and, in doing so, shape the future for good."

Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance also praised United, noting the company’s long history of partnering with Texas Tech, which includes providing a $10 million gift to lead fundraising for the United Spirit Arena.

"Once again, United Supermarkets has proven that it is a good citizen of Lubbock and a supportive friend of Texas Tech University," he said. "With United’s help, we will be able to positively influence children at a critical juncture of their lives as they transition from childhood into young adulthood."

CONTACT: Juli Buchanan, director of public relations and education, The Ranch at Dove Tree and the Center for the Prevention and Resiliency, (806) 742-2891, or juli.buchanan@ttu.edu.