Millennium Focus: Community A.L.E.R.T. (Alliance for Learning, Educating, Recruiting, and
Training) celebrates its 29th Annual Youth Awards Recognition Program, May 4, 2019. Twenty-
nine years is a milestone, an occasion to celebrate, an opportunity to glance back and a golden
opportunity to chart the path forward. This organization was founded in 1976 as a nonprofit
organization, named THE NASHVILLE MISSIONARY GOSPEL ENSEMBLE. It was formerly
known as the T. E. Sweeney Ensemble and was formed as a singing ministry to encourage,
inspire and strengthen souls through songs of praise. In 1985, the founder and president,
Jacqueline Conwell, after prayer and meditation, shared with the group God’s call for them to be
an outreach organization that would minister to the needs and souls of the people. The Ensemble
raised thousands of dollars to help individuals who were in need. Their innovative musical
ministry enabled each member to see, hear and respond to the concerns and needs of individuals,
children and families in their sphere of influence. In 1990, as an outreach commitment, The
Ensemble reached out and adopted 3 Metro Public Schools. As a result the Youth Awards
Recognition Program was established.
Collective work and responsibility empowered The Ensemble to develop and sponsor a positive program designed to advocate for young people growing up in a cross section of communities in the Nashville area. The program reached out to African
American students who had persevered and stayed focused and graduated from high school. An honors driven program was not the focus. The Ensemble felt a strong commitment to encourage young people to “rise above” problems, no matter how insurmountable
they may have appeared. Their goal was to help students understand that an education will enable them to “rise above” inequalities in our society. Hence, The Ensemble set out to celebrate our most precious resource…our youth.
The Ensemble successfully coordinated eight annual community workshops, as well as awards
and recognition programs which began with the adoption of nine Metropolitan public schools
during the 1990-91 academic year. At the first Youth Awards Program 300 students were
honored. Twenty-nine years later, the program has grown to honor over 700 students within
Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding counties. These students represent public, private and
parochial schools. Over 16,000 students have been honored for their commitment, determination
and perseverance to stay in school, stay focused and graduate. Within this setting the
organization has reached out and embraced the Elementary and Middle School students for their
display of good citizenship and efforts to achieve academically. The students are deemed worthy
to be saluted for their stance. The selection process is determined by the administrative staff of
each school. The Ensemble was ecstatic to give African American achievers center stage
regardless of their rank in class. Students are awarded medallions for Elementary and Middle
School students, plaques for graduating seniors, along with certificates and a God inspired
writing scribed by Theresa F. Gordon. A reception is provided after the awards ceremony. Also,
academic counseling is provided at no cost to our student recipients and their families. The
Ensemble believes that the height and depth of the achievement of our young people can only be
measured by the organization’s commitment to safeguard their future. Labels have been the
shackles for many generations. We should work together to eradicate and ensure that no other
generation will be labeled Generation X.
With progress often comes an organizational name change. Subsequently, in 2003, The Nashville
Missionary Gospel Ensemble officially changed its name to Millennium Focus: Community
A.L.E.R.T. (Alliance for Learning, Educating, Recruiting and Training). These programs include
Nashville Ministries, Youth Awards Recognition Program, Xtra Effort, From Prison to Freedom,
and New Dimension Scholars. The mission remains unchanged…to empower, educate, and
advocate for at-risk youth, and individuals who are incarcerated, along with their families.
Community A.L.E.R.T. is a channel that God has chosen to model His love for us. Love is the
core that holds everything together. Therefore, we must model God’s love before our
Jacqueline Conwell, “Jackie”, the Founder and President has been steadfast and unmovable in
her efforts to advance the organization. Mrs. Conwell, is known to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson
who said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have
succeeded.” Mrs. Conwell over the years has had numerous support systems in place. People
have given of their time, talent, skill and finances to help advance the God given vision of
Community A.L.E.R.T. Many have prayed and we have seen the fruits of their labor of love.
Much gratitude goes out to the many who have served to bring this dream to reality: From
members, musicians, advisors, committee members, the youth advisory board, helping hands,
greeters, special volunteers, and sponsorship by many individuals, businesses, churches and
Reflecting back, God placed many, many people along our paths who played an important role in the laying of our foundation and we appreciate the service of all who have crossed our path of purpose. They are woven into the fabric of who we are today.
During the past twenty-nine years, Community A.L.E.R.T. has given recognition awards to
students, administrators, educators, teachers, and parents of the year. Beginning in 2003, we
began Memorial Recognition Awards: Dr. Richard J. Enochs Humanitarian Award, Reverend
Harold Simmons Justice Award, Angela Blevins-Ratcliff, Educator of the Year Award, and
Jacqueline Lucas-Beverly, Inspiring Educator Scholarship Award of the Year. One of the
organization’s community volunteers provides the Jessica Driver Community Service Award.
Consequently, Millennium Focus: Community A.L.E.R.T. has been able to recognize
outstanding individuals in the Nashville community who have helped to make a difference in
advancing our world. As Community A.L.E.R.T. (Alliance for Learning, Educating, Recruiting
and Training) moves forward, we will focus more on our mission to Empower! Educate!
Advocate! Mentor! Encourage and Develop. That is what Community A.L.E.R.T. is all about.
This year, God has enlarged our territory by adding the Hedges & Highways Outreach Ministry
of Orange Park, FL to share our vision to support youth and their families. Hedges & Highways
Outreach Ministry will host their 1 st Annual Youth Awards Recognition Program on Saturday,
May 25 th at 1:00 pm in Fleming Island, FL.