Youth Advocate

Eddie Lincoln strives to make a difference as the new Bailey Gatzert School Success Coordinator

Written by Annie Beckmann
Photography by Chris Joseph Taylor
July 3, 2011

When he reflects on his education at Seattle University, Eddie Lincoln, ’05, fondly recalls his first community-based learning in a communications course taught by Assistant Professor Jeff Philpott.

It was a pivotal learning experience for Lincoln, who realized he wanted to have an impact on the community, although he wasn’t yet sure what role he would play. With the recent hiring of Lincoln as SU’s new Bailey Gatzert School Success Coordinator, the Seattle University Youth Initiative gains momentum. The community-wide concern that too many children face severe challenges to learning is the impetus that will drive the SU Youth Initiative, which starts with the Bailey Gatzert neighborhood around SU.

President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., described Lincoln as “a natural leader who is deeply committed to empowering youth in our community.”

As a success coordinator, Lincoln is tasked with improving the potential of area youth so they can be successful at school, have greater access to higher education and achieve their best as adults.

He spends four days a week at Bailey Gatzert and one day a week at SU. “At SU, my role involves recruitment on campus, building lasting relationships with faculty [and] 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,” Lincoln says. “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.”

If Lincoln’s name is familiar, it’s because he grew up in Rainier Valley, graduated from Seattle’s O’Dea High School and transferred from Eastern Washington University to Seattle University in 2002. It’s also because of his memorable high school and college basketball career. 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 team in 2005.

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.

Engagement and partnerships among SU, Bailey Gatzert and the community is multifaceted and long-term. The first step is to put in place a support network and structure for elementary students at Bailey Gatzert.

 “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.”
-Eddie Lincoln, ’05

“Our goal is to have our students excel academically, for their scores to rival their counterparts across the district,” he says. “Once they have achieved that academic feat, our next goal will be to find ways for them to exceed that standard.”

Earlier this year, Lincoln spoke to a group of Garfield High students who came to SU for a lesson on the history of social change movements. When a few of the 11th graders started to grouse about some of their tough teachers, he seized the moment and turned it into a rallying cry for the idea that students learn the most from the hardest-hitting teachers.

Jodi Kelly, interim dean at Matteo Ricci College and one of Lincoln’s mentors when he was an SU student, says the university is much richer for having hired him in this capacity.

“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. 

“Once you educate yourself, you can talk about social change in your community,” says Lincoln. “You can educate that community and it snowballs.”

Eddie Lincoln’s job is all about improving the potential of Bailey Gatzert students.