Red Hat Provides $1 Million Gift to Shelton Challenge

The Red Hat Shelton Challenge camp focuses on topics such as personal leadership assessment and interpersonal dynamics, the role of values and ethics in leadership, leadership traits and approaches, team building and empowering others, social responsibility, public speaking and goal setting.

A major gift from Raleigh-based software corporation Red Hat will provide critical long-term support for the largest program based at NC State University’s Shelton Leadership Center.

The $1 million contribution benefits the intensive summer leadership program for high school students that’s at the heart of the center’s mission to develop values-based leaders.

The program is also one of the center’s longest-running initiatives, along with the annual leadership forum. It now will be named the Red Hat Shelton Challenge.

The gift honors the leadership and impact of General H. Hugh Shelton, the Shelton Leadership Center’s founder and namesake and a former longtime member of Red Hat’s board of directors. The NC State alumnus, who retired fr om a distinguished 38-year military career in 2001 following two terms as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired the Red Hat board for seven years.

“General Shelton was an important part of the Red Hat family for a long time, more than 14 years,” said Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat. “During that time, he made a strong impact on our business, culture and associates. Personally, he served as an inspiration and a mentor to me, providing invaluable insights and lessons on how to lead people in an open and honest way.

“We felt that this was a small way for us to thank him for his contributions and to make sure that the values by which he leads are instilled in future generations.”

Red Hat, founded in 1993, is a leading global provider of open source software solutions. The company – which was located for a time on NC State’s Centennial Campus before moving its corporate headquarters to downtown Raleigh – has more than 11,000 employees and grew into a multibillion-dollar business during Shelton’s era of board service.

The Shelton Leadership Center was established in 2002 to develop the next generation of values-based leaders on campus as well as in corporate, governmental, educational, nonprofit and youth development organizations. Its programs focus on General Shelton’s leadership cornerstones of honesty, integrity, diversity, compassion and social responsibility.

This year’s Red Hat Shelton Challenge will enroll about 800 high school students from across North Carolina. That number includes participants in a smaller Take II component, which is offered to students who have already spent a previous summer in the cornerstone program.

Most of the residential Challenge camps, which run six days, take place on NC State’s campus with a few sessions held in other locations. Curriculum topics include personal leadership assessment and interpersonal dynamics, the role of values and ethics in leadership, leadership traits and approaches, team building and empowering others, social responsibility, public speaking and goal setting.

So many participants later enroll in the university that the center offers a Shelton Delegates initiative to keep them connected to one another as college students.

“There’s no question that the Challenge has had a tremendous impact – not just on the high school students who attend, but on the experiential learning for our college students who volunteer to help at these camps,” said Barbara Mulkey, who became director of the Shelton Leadership Center in 2016. “Our challenge is to keep this great program sustained in perpetuity and this gift brings us a long way toward that goal of full endowment. Red Hat wanted to honor General Shelton, and this program is very near and dear to his heart.”

In addition to financial support, Red Hat associates will speak at two Challenge graduation events this summer and a representative of the company will serve on the center’s board of advisers. The Shelton Leadership Center staff is excited about the growing collaboration.

“Red Hat is a perfect partner for us because of our shared values and because of their desire to become more engaged with the center,” Mulkey said. “We want to build a consistent organizational relationship, and we want Red Hat to interact with our students and to see the impact of their gift and the center.”