Our Story

In our rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever to equip our young people with the tools they need to prepare for a future that we are still imagining.

ELA makes this happen.

History & Mission

ELA’s mission is to help young people develop their most valuable asset – themselves. Flo Brett founded ELA after spending several years within the classroom environment helping her son navigate the challenges he was facing, with significant learning differences resulting from his very premature birth.  During this period, she realized that he, along with thousands of other students, were missing personal leadership and soft skills training that would equip them to be successful in school, work and life. To fill this gap, she adapted the leadership development curriculum she had created for the largest training hospital in the UK for use with 5th-12th grade students, teaching these essential life skills at a younger age. Since our inception in 2008, ELA has served over 50,000 students with more than 240 school and youth-serving agency partners in the Greater Cleveland area. We have received numerous awards, including recognitions from the Ohio Department of Education and from Clemson University, for our work in providing unique and impactful social and emotional development programming to youth and educators.

The Need

ELA was founded on the realization that young people must develop 21st century soft skills if they are to succeed in a globalized world as adults (CASEL, 2016). This is particularly true for students living in poverty, many of whom are unable to access youth development and educational support services programs that help them cultivate these indispensable skills and increase their employability (Center for Community Solutions, 2018).

Studies predict that by the time our current preschool and kindergarten students graduate from high school, the majority of them will need to be ready to work in jobs that have not even been invented yet (World Economic Forum, 2021). The people who will be creating those jobs? Our current high schoolers. In our rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever to equip our young people with the tools they need to prepare for a future that we are still imagining. Research suggests the most important skills are the adaptable ones like communication, leadership networking, time-management, teamwork, self-regulation, etc. These skillsets transcend industry lines and are essential for success in the workplace and in life (NACE, 2018).

Our Mission

The mission of ELA is quite simple: We help young people develop their most valuable asset-THEMSELVES!

Filling A Gap

ELA focuses on helping students—no matter where they find themselves—to develop essential leadership, social-emotional and soft skills. These are the exact skills that many of these underserved students are currently lacking, yet urgently need if they are to compete for living wage jobs when they graduate.

Remarkable Impact

The impact of ELA expands deep into the Greater Cleveland community. Since 2008, over 50,000 students across 240 schools and youth serving organizations have been served by ELA's programming.

Next-Level Programming

ELA uses a research-based model to provide authentic, integrated, experiential, and interactive learning experiences for young students. We help equip them with the skills that they need to prosper in their future dreams, including teamwork, communication, critical outside-the-box thinking, and much more. Visit our Programming Page to learn about our various programs.

Support ELA

Create an impact by making a gift online today!

ELA by the Numbers


Year Founded


Students/Educators Impacted


Total Employees


Educational Partners


Programs Offered


Philanthropic Partners


Average increase in GPA for ELA participants


Student : Instructor Ratio


Students who made academic gains with SEL participation


States Participating


Of ELA participants received philanthropic support


Countries Participating