Founder + Executive Director

Zakiya Esper

After years of working as a juvenile probation officer in South Carolina, Zakiya Esper became increasingly alarmed by the gap in support services for the teens she served. The vision for Sowing Seeds into the Midlands was birthed from Zakiya's belief in redemption for youth, honoring a fair shot for all teens, especially those living in the communities where she was raised.

I truly believe that it’s the responsibility of the community to establish a safety net for young people who are falling through the cracks. The expectation that their behavior will self correct simply due to contact with the system is unrealistic and irresponsible.

We must acknowledge that a lack of support programs is a grave mismanagement on our part of these precious lives. Seeds was founded with the intention of standing in the gap for these teens who otherwise would not have a chance at redemption. We want them to know we haven’t counted them out and that there’s still every opportunity to lead a successful and purposeful life.
Zakiya Esper


Sowing Seeds into the Midlands is a grassroots nonprofit organization that provides support services to teens and their families via advocacy, education, and direct programming in an effort to interrupt the school to prison pipeline.


At Sowing Seeds into the Midlands, we believe in a world where all youth have the ability to lead positively impactful, purposeful lives.  

Board of Directors

Deputy Chief Melron Kelly
City of Columbia Police Department

Rebecca Williams
Public Defender, Richland County

Brittani Richards‎, MSW
Grants & Communications Expert