Next Generation helps facilitate student-initiated weekly lunch clubs on Junior and Senior high school campuses, and use these clubs as avenues to connect students to local mentors. During these clubs, facilitators provide a safe place on campus for students to receive help with real-life issues and discuss these topics with adult mentors who offer wise advice. In these large group discussions, the facilitators cover a wide range of information relating to issues that teenagers face such as bullying, suicide, violence, drug abuse, relationship struggles, excellence in education, and human trafficking. These clubs aim to improve students’ health by focusing on the whole person through teaching about emotional, physical and mental well-being.
Next Generation began in 1993 when Steve Robinson started meeting with students at East Jefferson High School during the lunch hour. By the fall of 1994, this “lunch club” took place in three other Jefferson Parish high schools. During the 1994-95 school year, there was a tremendous growth in the number of students participating, with over 200 young people weekly attending the lunch clubs.
In the 1995-96 school year, a fourth club was added and Next Generation officially became non-profit organization. From 1996-98 Next Generation Ministries, Inc. continued their expansion to include 8 Jefferson Parish Schools. From 2000-2002, the Assistant Director, Jason Robinson, continued to maintain the clubs with the help of trained leaders from within the schools.
In 2002 Benjamin Comer was appointed as the Executive Director, taking Next Generation to a whole new level. He served with Next Generation for 12 faithful years, expanding their reach beyond local schools to the entire Gulf South, where Next Generation hosts character clubs in eight parishes in Louisiana and two counties in Mississippi.
In 2014, Next Generation announced Cynthia Hassenboehler as the Executive Director, utilizing her seven years of experience with the organization. As the staff and influence continue to expand beyond 43 schools and 4000 students, this vision behind the mission is still the driving force behind all Next Generation does:
Change the Campus, Change the Culture.