President of DeKalb Kids Project, Inc.

Mr. Aaron Johnson

As the President of DeKalb Kids Project, Aaron Johnson is responsible for streamlining communication within the business and fostering philanthropic relationships within the community. Aaron is also currently serving the Career and Employment Specialist for the Urban League of Greater Atlanta- DeKalb Youth Empowerment Program.

Aaron is a proud DeKalb County native who developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector as a beneficiary of formal and informal youth development programs throughout DeKalb County School District. These experiences have pushed Aaron to dedicate his life to the service of others.  

Prior to accepting the President role, Aaron was a pivotal advocate and PR specialist for DeKalb Kids Project. In addition to PR for the project, he assisted DKP members and staff with management of any practice needs.  

Previously, Aaron served in DeKalb County School District as a middle and high school English teacher and president of a male mentoring initiative, Men of Distinction, at DeKalb Alternative High School. During his time with DeKalb County School District Aaron was also an instrumental figure on the inception of My Brother’s Keeper DeKalb, serving on the founding task force for the initiative. 

Aaron has also used his talents and love for underserved youth by speaking at numerous events, including My Brother’s Keeper Clayton. Aaron’s motto for advocacy was taken from Morgan Carroll, “Obviously these are some exceptional young people, but what they have in common is that they were ordinary people who cared. They wanted to act, to do something, to make life better for other people—and they have."

image404

Director of Academic Engagement

image405

Mr. Cornelius R. Polk Ed.S

As Director of Academic Engagement, I will provide leadership in planning, coordination, implementation, and assessment of academic services and activities related to student-success throughout Dekalb County. Creating programs that will help engage more parents in the educational process while also developing opportunities for student leadership are of high priority. The implementation of these programs will directly align with the mission of the Dekalb Kids Project while also improving the educational experience of students in the Dekalb County School District. 


Creating clear visions and culture building are attributes that I have developed over 15 years of leadership. From the boardroom to the classroom I am a proven instructional and organizational leader with a passion for finding creative ways to help students improve their futures. As an educator in the Dekalb County School District, I have taken on opportunities to mentor as a member of the Men of Distinction Mentoring program at Dekalb Alternative School. I have also taken advantage of numerous mentor opportunities throughout Metro Atlanta as a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. As a head baseball and basketball coach, I have been able to develop programs where academics are first while teaching student-athletes how to plan for their futures. Due to this approach, we have been able to maintain a 100 percent graduation rate over seven years with 95 percent of our student-athletes attending universities. 


As a native of Sylvester Georgia, I was able to witness firsthand what happens when there are no programs in place to supplement student’s educational needs. So developing academic programs became part of my motivation for becoming an educator and has been one of the driving forces behind my current pursuit of a doctoral degree. I look forward to working with all stakeholders within Dekalb County, to develop a culture where the academic success of our students is priority number one throughout the district. 


Best Regards,

Cornelius R. Polk Ed.S

Director of Training Strategy

Ms. Bret Townsend

Meet Bret Townsend

Miss Bret is a Training Implementation Specialist, Systems Strategist and Content Creator. She moved from Chicago to Atlanta 6 years ago to change her life and never looked back. Growing up on Chicago’s south side has allowed Bret to gain the ultimate perspective and experience in survival and overcoming obstacles. From an early age, Bret has always been interested in creating unique things, organizing, writing and developing systems. As a proud Chicago native, Bret has always wanted to find a way to give back to her community in the unconventional form of placing change and purpose in the hands of her mentees both young and old.

 With 14 years of corporate work experience under her belt, she has managed to bundle her knowledge and experience to share via Brand of Bret™. With 10 years of Navy experience, she is a strong leader and tactical planner. Bret specializes in teaching others the Power of Perspective, Conflict Resolution, Accountability and Leadership. She is a new DeKalb county resident and has been able to identify gaps in resources offered to at-risk youth and transitioning young adults. She aims to change that via mentoring, speaking, training workshops and community centric partnerships. Her style is succinct, informative and impactful when she works and she is known across all her peers of being the one who gets the job done. Being “The Fixer” has afforded Bret the title of “Strategy Ninja” due to her behind the scenes precision- focused work style. You may not always see her face on the front of a project but there is a high probability that she is the one driving it to success and productivity behind the scenes.


Bret owns SavvyPro Freelance, a consulting firm based in Decatur, Ga where she is now a very active resident of her community. As Chief Strategist, Bret does Brand Positioning for Small Business Owners and individuals in need of improving their image and professional profile. An avid writer, she also has a Business and Lifestyle blog to help others with navigating through life’s many challenges via goal setting and words of affirmation. 


 It is time to switch things up and get more involved! Bret is partnering with DKP to increase brand awareness, help establish continuity, and utilize her training expertise for the project’s expansion and change. Her primary focus and involvement includes Training Workshops and Development of those most in need. She loves to show others the power of taking control and working toward improving your circumstances.


 When Bret isn’t working on project collaborations, she is usually writing, Netflix binging, in Target or creating new content. She is very passionate about animals, especially dogs. She hopes to be a change-making DeKalb county resident with the ability to help others be the best version of themselves and not only just survive the world we live in today, but THRIVE in the world we live in today. 

Read more about Bret on www.BrandOfBret.com

Bret Townsend

EM: heybret@brettownsend.com

PH: 404.500.7953

Social Media

IG: @brand_of_bret    FB: /BretTownsendtrategist     LinkedIn: /BretTownsend

image406

Director of Community Engagement

Mr. Giovanni Sturgis

Giovanni Sturgis is a local organizer originally from Cleveland, Ohio currently based in Atlanta, GA. He has been in the nonprofit sector for the last six years where he oversees staff recruitment and training, program implementation, and daily operations. 


Gio has a background in marketing promotions and management. Not only has he worked with several government officials on their campaign management, he's been involved with numerous types of educational and entertainment events and programs. 


Gio prides himself in being a connector and has a special passion to help people specifically young adults. 

"So much done, so much to do." 

⁃ Gio 

image407

Executive Team

Kaneica McNeil

image408

Aaron Johnson

image409

Julian K. Smith Jr.

image410

Candice Singleton

image411

Volunteer Coordinator

Csingleton@dekelbkidsproject.org 


Jlynn Whitehead

image412

Intern (Executive Assistant)

Dominique Mcpherson

image413

Content Write/ Jornalist 

Our Advisors

Finance

image414

Andrew Paterson

Community Outreach

image415

Saquoia Gillus

Communications

image416

Walter Swanson III

Our Founders!

Tiijon DaCosta

image417

This organization has been uniquely designed based on the principles of God’s unconditional love, compassion and concern for the youth and the desire to reconstitute the communities throughout DeKalb County. Founded by brothers Tiijon DaCosta Sr. and Diijon DaCosta and their cousin Dawit Willis, DKP was developed based off of the founders’ childhoods and mentoring they received by members of the community upon first moving to DeKalb County in 1989. 


tdacosta@dekalbkidsproject.org

Diijon Dacosta

image418

DKP thoroughly stresses the importance of education to each student and reaching their fullest potential. DKP utilizes the expertise of tutoring, extracurricular activities and mentoring to positively influence each child on an individual level. The organization firmly believes in providing each child with the necessary tools and skills to fulfill their passion, make their visions a reality and obtain physical, emotional and mental wellness with the assistance of parents, educators and community leaders.


ddacosta@dekalbkidsproject.org


Dawit Willis

image419

The founders stand firmly on the belief that strong connections, communication and involvement in academics between teachers, community leaders and parents benefits all parties in successfully raising each child to cultivate phenomenal character traits that they will possess for a lifetime. DeKalb Kids Project, Inc. consistently engages in developing self-confidence and self-discipline within their community.   


dwillis@dekalbkidsproject.org

LEADERSHIP CORE EXPECTATIONS

ALL MEMBERS LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE! VIEW THE PICTURE BEFORE WE START ANY PROJECT.

image420

  • Find where you fit in! 
  • Initiative 
  • All leaders should rise to the occasion 
  • Lift each other up 
  • Communication 
  • Use each other as a resource
  • Selfless  
  • Continuous support     

2014 LAUNCH VIDEO