BENEFITING: National Trust for the Development
We work to build a safety net for African-American teenage boys. We teach the richness of their history, the strength of their traditional communities and the reasons for hope.
This generation of boys is trapped. Trapped by negative stereotypes, violence, drugs, virtual segregation, and a society that doesn't care. There are currently over a million black men in prisons and jails in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “This criminalization process now starts in elementary schools with black boys as young as nine and ten years old being arrested in staggering numbers". These children suffer from severe self-hatred, poverty, absentee fathers, crime and early death. Many are traumatized by extreme violence with no one to protect them.
Our work addresses this tragedy and the social and cultural misinformation of which these young boys are victims. We help them understand what a powerful inheritance they carry within them, filled with courage, determination and sacrifice; full of dignity and integrity. We teach them about the rich culture they come from, the traditional values of family, education, morality, and especially community, in order that they may build a new foundation knowing who they truly are.
Close to 90% of the boys we work with have no positive male adult in their lives other than possibly a sports coach. We serve as a mentor, father figure, role model and counselor to give them hope for a productive future. We represent an island of stability and knowledge in the midst of cultural chaos and trauma.
The majority of our work is focused in the Hillsborough and Pinellas County public school systems of Central Florida. Currently, Florida leads the nation in the negative indicators for these children's lives: suspensions, expulsions, drop-out rates and arrests of African-American male students. Although our work is partially funded by the schools, the local budget is grossly insufficient to meet the needs of so many young men.