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USA Unites Award Winners

TODD LIPA

BRIGHT HOUSE NETWORKS
FARMINGTON, MI
PROGRAM DIRECTOR, CITY OF FARMINGTON HILLS AFTER SCHOOL YOUTH CENTER PROGRAM

Born and raised in Farmington, Michigan, Todd Lipa has a passion for helping and supporting kids, especially those facing life challenges.

Inspired by his grandmother's wish for a safe place where he and his young friends could hang out and enjoy activities, Todd, in partnership with Nancy Bates and the City Council of Farmington Hills, launched the City of Farmington Hills After-School Youth Center Program. Since 1996, the program has made a significant and meaningful difference in the lives of nearly 12,000 5th-8th grade students in Farmington and Farmington Hills.

What's more, the program lead to the formation of the Mayors' Youth Council, a group of teens who work alongside community leaders learning that their voice matters. He is also instrumental in The Turnaround Program with Farmington Schools, which centers on how students have turned their lives around and celebrates their success.

Fundraising keeps the After-School Program affordable for families, while supporting expansion to five locations and a summer session. Todd has put his fundraising skills to work for others. His innovation and ideas have supported efforts to bring in more than $1 million for a variety of community causes and programs. He also gives his time and energy to groups that help families in need, support children and youth, share information about suicide and depression, encourage diversity, and more.

Todd assisted in the development of a Youth Dialogue Program, partnering with the University of Michigan, matching diverse groups of young people from a variety of ethnicities to meet and learn about each other’s cultures. By listening to a young lady with the dream of making this class part of the high school curriculum, it is now a credited class at our local high schools. This class increases awareness in our diverse community and has created unity.

A high school and middle school football and baseball coach for nearly 35 years, Todd teaches young athletes discipline, teamwork and respect, supporting their success on the field and in life. He also helped create Team Farmington/Special Olympics and once took a Special Olympics softball team across the country, showing communities that people with special needs can learn, be productive and rise to meet challenges.

His passion, simply put, are his “kids,” hundreds of whom still call him “Mr. Todd” or “Coach.”

While he doesn't have children of his own, Todd has helped raise a young woman born with physical disabilities and labeled “special” in school. With his motivation and her drive, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Adolescent Psychology from the University of Michigan and is now helping people with disabilities similar to her own.

Working with other community-minded people, Todd is part of a current effort to hopefully purchase property that will support a food and clothing pantry, educational facility, a family center, and in partnership with the Michigan School of Professional Psychology, a counseling center to support children and families.

Todd continues to value the lessons he learned from his mother and grandmother, both of whom died when he was young. Were it not for their influence, and the coaches, teachers and employers who have mentored him, Todd believes his life could have taken a very different path. Following in those footsteps, he takes the time to listen to young people, to support and encourage them, and guide them in a positive direction.

As a licensed wedding officiant since 2003, Todd enjoys being an integral part in the beginning of new families, and with that remains close to many of the couples he marries.

A friend says Todd's life’s work could be used as the curriculum for a course in “generativity,” or a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation. You try to “make a difference” with your life, to “give back,” to “take care” of your community and your planet.”