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Entrepreneur ‘Activating Communities Through Service’

Gary Smith, Jr. creates Leading A.C.T.S. to inform fellow students

Ashley Montgomery | 6/5/2014, 9 a.m.

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?,” the late, hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur wrote. Founder of a new and unique virtual start-up business, Gary Smith, Jr. says he is pushing for all of his peers to be that rose.

A recent graduate of Miami Edison Senior High School, Smith says he sat in his business class never expecting to become the creator of his own business.

“I was never really a business-oriented person but Ms. Mezadieu, my teacher — I have to thank her so much because she has helped me with everything,” Smith said. “Everything that I got and I needed, it was all because of her and many of my classmates.”

Smith is founder of Leading A.C.T.S. [Activating Communities Through Service], a business dedicated to providing career-minded community service opportunities for high school students.

Smith says that he noticed a void and the lack of engagement by his peers during his time at Miami Edison. He attributed his passion for assisting others to why he wanted to create this business. Smith said he was planning to live a normal life like any other young adult his age until he tapped into his inner-strengths and decided to capitalize off them.

“I’ve always had a knack for helping the community, helping my friends — just helping people — because I am a point guard that’s just what we do, we assist people,” Smith said.

“So doing that, I wondered why can't ninth through 12th-graders be able to get real work experience while they are getting their diploma so that when they do graduate they are ahead and not behind.”

According to a recent study done by the American College Testing (ACT) program, only 5 percent of all Black test takers showed they were “college-ready”. In contrast, the study showed white students were six times more prepared for college than Blacks.

Smith has made it known that this effort is geared toward minorities because we are “the lowest on the totem pole”. He says he has to do what needs to be done now before things continue to get worse.

“Let’s change this place before we leave this place,” Smith said. “I’m bringing something to the table that will change someone for the rest of their lives.”

THE WAY IT WORKS

Smith provides a database for his members to be able to search from six career fields: Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Business, Management and Administration; Communications and Information Systems; Engineering, Manufacturing and Technology; Health Science Technology; and Human Services that they want to excel in and are looking for an internship to gain experience. Instead of having to go out and search for them, they will have a list of companies to choose from.

Leading A.C.T.S. works closely with companies like Bank United, Precious Little Steps Learning Center, Bill Hansen Catering and more.

“There are a lot of different companies of different races, sizes and people that they can get in with,” Smith said.