With the February hiring of Eddie Lincoln as Seattle University’s new Bailey Gatzert School Success Coordinator, the SU Youth Initiative is gaining momentum.
“We’re not running, but we are walking,” Lincoln says.
President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., described Lincoln as “a natural leader who is deeply committed to empowering youth in our community” when he publicly announced the Youth Initiative on Valentine’s Day.
Success coordinator? Lincoln’s role is about improving the potential of young children. He spends four days a week at Bailey Gatzert and one at SU.
“At SU, my role involves recruitment on campus, building lasting relationships with faculty, reaching out to student groups to get more volunteer tutors. The fact that SU has service-learning projects and students who really want to make a change is amazing. When we don’t have resources, we’re finding people who do. There’s an influx of people who want to partner with SU.
“At Bailey Gatzert, Principal Greg Imel is very open and we’re building a relationship of trust. We’re starting with kindergartners and first graders.
Step one in our partnership is to put a support network and structure in place for Gatzert students. Our goal is to have our students excel academically; for their scores to rival their counterparts across the district, and once they have achieved that academic feat, our next goal will be to find ways for them to exceed that standard. One step at a time, though.”
Lincoln sees plenty of room to grow in his career as the Youth Initiative gradually expands to encompass Washington Middle School and Garfield High School.
He recently spoke to a group of Garfield students who came to SU for a history lesson in social movements for change. When a few of the Garfield 11th graders started to grouse about some of their tough teachers, he seized the moment and turned it into a rally cry for learning the most from the hardest-hitting teachers. He grabbed their attention and kept them engaged.
If Eddie Lincoln’s name is familiar, that’s because he grew up in the Rainier Valley, graduated from O’Dea High School and transferred from Eastern Washington University to Seattle University in 2002. It’s also because of his memorable basketball career. When he was at O’Dea, he was named state player of the year in 2000. He served as the SU basketball team captain from 2002 to 2004 and coached the SU team in 2005. He’s a 2005 SU alumnus whose major shifted from business and accounting to criminal justice and later to communications.
Jodi Kelly, associate dean at Matteo Ricci College and one of Lincoln’s mentors when he was an SU student, says SU has increased its wealth significantly by hiring him.
“Eddie Lincoln is exactly the person I would want as a role model for my own children and the students at Bailey Gatzert,” she says. “His long suits are loyalty, compassion, tenacity, discipline, an ability to love. Add to that an engaging personality and a smile that makes you believe in the goodness of people, and you've got Eddie Lincoln.”
A graduate of Houston’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, which routinely ranks among the nation’s top five law schools for its number of African American graduates, Lincoln says he was particularly interested in the political side of law shaped by legislation. He concedes that politics might lure him some day, yet his dedication to youth is undeniable.
“I began to realize the people who hurt most in our society are the children,” he says. “If I can reach kids K-5, then middle school and then high school, there will be hundreds of kids who can shape our laws.
“Once you educate yourself, you can talk about social change in your community. You can educate that community and it snowballs. It’s long overdue.”