Shalima McCants

by Terry Watson | September 20th, 2021
Shalima McCants

Shalima McCants

It doesn’t matter which part of New York you’re in; if you are from New York, the entire Empire State is home. Shalima McCants was born in Harlem but raised in the Bronx, the place she says shaped and prepared her for life. After graduating from high school, she attended the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, NY, majored in Psychology and minored in Communication Arts, eventually obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Next, she started working in the non-profit field, working with individuals affected by HIV and Aids. She says that experience helped her understand her passion and desire to help people differently. Next, she returned to school, attended Hunter College School Social Work, received her social work degree, and eventually completed her master’s degree, and received her license in Social Work.

She was initially introduced to the NYUL eight years ago. She started as a young professional with the NYUL Young Professionals Chapter, designed for individuals between the ages of 21-40 who live and work throughout New York City and the surrounding community. The ideal client might be interested in being connected to like-minded young professionals focused on community service, civic engagement, and philanthropic efforts. While serving as a chapter member, she took on several leadership roles such as Membership Co-Chair, Member Chair, Vice President, and President of the Young Professionals Chapter. Today, she works with the New York Urban League as the Chief Program Officer.

The NYUL was founded in 1919. For over 100 years, this program has provided scholarships and tools that will prepare the future. “When I think about the services we provide, we can support those who need them the most, which are inner-city youth,” Shalima says. “Many of our students are first-generation college students. We are also helping others prepare for the workforce with resume writing, mock interviews, and workshops. We are also helping our students during their transition into new employment opportunities.”

The NYUL primarily serves the five boroughs of New York City; Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Currently, their focus is on the Bronx and Harlem, but there is a five-year growth plan to cover the other named areas.

Shalima shares what she loves about her work is being a part of the movement. “Looking at the growth that has taken place since the inception of the program, I am excited to be part of a larger network that works collectively with our community to enhance the quality of lives for everyone,” she says. “Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to serve as a mentor to five female college students and help them make the transition from high school to college and see their growth with the NYUL. Seeing the progress in life and then return to and show their appreciation has made it all worth it,” she says.

Being in the nonprofit arena for over twenty years, Shalima has faced her share of challenges. “Wanting to do more for the individuals in the program, I have to be mindful of my own limitations. With all that is happening in our world today, I know our children aren’t always allowed to be children. There are drugs and gun violence all around them, and knowing this often keeps me up at night. I chose this career because I love it, not for the money,” she shares.

Shalima says black women inspire her. She credits her mother, who has been actively involved in all of the stages of her upbringing. “I feel blessed to be surrounded by such a strong woman and also many other strong women in the NYUL. My twin sister also inspires me,” she says.

In the future, Shalima says she plans to remain active in the non-profit space and with the NYUL. “I plan to continue to young girls and young women and help them to become the greatest version of themselves. I am a strong believer that education is a stepping stone to future opportunities, and that is why I remain involved in different initiatives to expand my educational opportunities,” she says.

To learn more about the New York Urban League, please visit their website.


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