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Mission Statement


The Lead First Foundation is an innovative program that addresses a great need for youth leadership and responsible behaviors in our community. The Lead First Foundation is based on Christian principles, with its mission to prepare, motivate, and develop at-risk youth to become leaders in the area of leadership, education, achievement, and development.     




About Us


Description of the intervention:  Lead first is a comprehensive schoolwide reform program, primarily for high-poverty schools, with a strong emphasis on early detection and prevention of reading problems before they become serious.  The non-profit LEAD First Foundation is the program provider, supplying materials, training, and professional development to schools that adopt the program.

At the beginning of each school year, and every eight weeks thereafter, each Lead First school assesses the reading ability of 30 students using a standardized reading test.  The test results are used to (1) form reading classes made up of students of all ages who read at the same grade level; (2) identify struggling students in need of tutoring, and (3) monitor student reading growth.  Specially-trained Lead First staff and volunteers in the school provide the struggling students with one-on-one tutoring in weekly, 90-minute sessions until they are reading at their age-appropriate grade


LEAD First Foundation typically requires

That the school principal has to adopt the program before it can be implemented.  The principal then designates one teacher or counselor to serve as a facilitator who supports teachers to improve the quality of their implementation of the program.  In addition, the school staff will work closely with the Lead First coordinator to establish planning and the problem-solving group that works toward a positive school climate, high attendance, and parent involvement, and handles teachers’ referrals of individual student problems (e.g., poor reading progress, or social/behavioral problems).

Give us a call:  361-878-7380  ext22801


Our Children


Students spend most of the school day in their traditional age-grouped classes but are regrouped into the above reading classes for weekly, 90-minute lessons.  In grades K-1, these lessons focus on language development (e.g., reading stories to students and having them re-tell); teaching students the distinct sounds that makeup words (i.e. phonemic awareness), blending sounds to form words, and developing reading


The grades 3-6 curriculum builds on these initial
skills to develop students’ reading comprehension and writing skills, largely through cooperative learning activities.  During these activities, students work together in teams or pairs and receive positive team recognition (e.g. certificates, staff praise) for successfully completing reading activities.  Students at all grade levels are also required to read for 30 minutes every night.


​Our Staff

LEAD FIRST provides staff in the school with three weeks of pre-implementation training, as well as considerable ongoing professional development and conducts weekly visits to monitor the program progress in increasing reading achievement.
Volunteers are needed at all levels.




Mr. Nickleson is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of a non-profit Organization call LEAD FIRST. LEAD FIRST is a foundation created to help young students and their families to overcome difficult situations in their lives and helping to prepare them for a better future.

He was the YMCA Community Development Director – for 16 years. Prior to his employment with the YMCA he taught in the Corpus Christi Independent School District for ten (10) years.  Mr. Nickleson started the YMCA’s High School Youth and Government program 20 years ago and has been directly responsible for the success this program has achieved. His students (those in the Youth and Government Program) credit him with being a good role model; teaching and demonstrating the values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility; and for being “there” for them; and he provided training that has increased their confidence and encouraged them to expand their vision of possibilities.  Mr. Nickleson has accomplished the following: Business/Marketing degree from Texas A&M Corpus Christi in 1991; Received the “Living the Dream” award by KIII TV in 1996, and serves as the Associate Pastor for his church and he also received the Liberty Bell Awarded in 2005 an award given to a non-practicing person who has made an impact on the judicial system. Mr. Nickleson serves on several boards, the Mayors Advisory Board, Commission on Children and Youth Board, Training Board for new Police officers for the City of Corpus Christi, Mentors Network, Community Youth Development Committee, CCISD Diversity Task Force, and recently crated three books for the 78415 zip codes.

Mr. Nickleson is also responsible for starting the after school programs and all twelve middle schools now known as the 21st-century program. Mr. Nickleson in his 16 years of work at the YMCA has touched the lives of over 30,000 students and families by the Grace of God. Mr. Nickleson wants everyone to know that Jesus Christ is the reason for his success today. He is also a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi Class #23.


LEAD FIRST is currently working with 1,000 students per year. Three elementary, two middle schools and two high schools in CCISD.  He just received an award from the Tom Joiner Show a nationally syndicated radio show. He was recognized as A REAL FATHER AND REAL MAN by the show.



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