Ernest Levert Jr. has not been a Buckeye for long, but he demonstrates his passion for and commitment to central Ohio in many ways, including through his volunteering and giving. Originally from Texas, he followed in the footsteps of his parents and sister to attend The Ohio State University, where he graduated in 2013. He’s made Columbus his home ever since.
“I love Columbus and central Ohio because it feels like a big little city,” he says. “As I’ve heard people mention, it’s a city that you can ‘wrap your arms around.’ It’s full of passionate, down-to-Earth people who exude the spirit of the Midwest.”
Ernest first connected with United Way as a participant in Project Diversity, a leadership training program designed to prepare people of color for service on nonprofit boards and leadership positions. He says the program taught him about the responsibilities and impact of serving on a board of directors, and also provided valuable insight into the Columbus socioeconomic landscape.
“I would love to see more interconnectedness and less drastic contrasts between areas of town,” he says. “And I’d love to see everyone focus on how we can uplift the lives of all members of the community rather than just those within our reach.”
After Project Diversity exposed him to United Way’s work to fight poverty throughout central Ohio, he knew he wanted to be a part of the mission. LINC (Lead. Impact. Network.Change.) , United Way’s young professionals giving group, was the ideal way for him to contribute his time, talents and passion for the city. He became an independent giver through LINC and quickly joined many of the group’s volunteer projects.
“The membership guidelines for LINC made me feel like I was playing at least a small part in the fight against poverty,” he explains. “Plus, LINC made it easy for me to feel as if my contribution mattered and would be used well.”
Like United Way, Ernest focuses his efforts on youth development and economic empowerment—two areas he says are vital to creating a brighter future for our community. His involvement in LINC and other organizations, such as Communities in Schools and Columbus Urban League Young Professionals, reflects this focus.
Ernest says he appreciates how United Way of Central Ohio is constantly asking “What can we do better to help others live their best lives?” And it’s obvious that his many contributions to our community—be it time or money—reflect his ongoing commitment to answering that question.