By Anthony Martin
ABOVE PHOTO: a photo from the 7th annual What It Takes Symposium at Philly’s Free Library last year, 2011.
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
Nationwide — Philadelphia’s African American and Latino Male Dropout Task Force issued a comprehensive report in 2010 that found the city schools’ dropout rate is highest among boys, specifically African American and Latino boys. Forty-three percent of male African American students and 51 percent of male Latino students who had started as ninth graders in 2003 had dropped out of high school by 2009.
The numbers illustrate a vast divide between male and female achievement, as “only” 30 percent of African American girls and 36 percent of Latino girls had dropped out. The reasons for it are many. But certainly one factor is a dearth of positive personal interaction with successful, older males that our boys experience as they grow up.
Just seeing wealthy black and Latino men in politics, sports, or entertainment on TV isn’t enough to keep minority teens on the right path. What these boys need in their lives is accomplished men of color whom they can interact with, one on one, and learn from – men from this community who have achieved a level of success that isn’t so far-flung as to seem like an impossible dream.
These are men who can show African American and Latino teens that by working hard, graduating from high school, and staying away from drugs, gangs, and the many other negative influences on the street, they really can make a better life for themselves. These men prove that success isn’t something that exists only on television or in the suburbs.
We can make an impact. You can make an impact.
How? Volunteer as an e-mentor. Two hundred black boys in Philadelphia public schools are waiting for e-mentors. We need successful minority businessmen, scientists, public servants, educators, members of the military, medical professionals, athletes, entertainers, and others from any where in the country. You know What It Takes to be successful – our 200 boys are waiting to find out.
The project is called What It Takes, a partnership between the Urban Youth Racing School and the United Way Southeastern PA and funded through the Knight Foundation. The goal is to fill a motivational void in male African American teens (the program’s focus for the time being) in our city, to guide them, encourage them, and get them to stick with school.
You can transform a young boy’s life with out having to change yours!
The commitment is manageable. It can be done at your leisure via the Internet. The bulk of the communication between e-mentor and e-mentee is electronic, through monitored chat rooms, e-mail, and computer conferencing. This offers a level of safety for kids and adult volunteers alike, and it also makes it much easier for working professionals who don’t have the time to regularly travel around or into the city to form a bond with one student. E-mentors are asked to commit for at least nine months and be available at least once a week. We also offer training to help you get started.
What more meaningful way can there be for black men like you who have found prosperity to give something back than by taking a little time each week to impart wisdom and positive messages to boys who need help finding their own path to success? Share this opportunity to give back with a friend!
Go to www.whatittakes.me and register to become an e-mentor.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact What It Takes E-mentoring Director Dr. Ashaki Coleman via email at [email protected].
Anthony Martin is the founder of Urban Youth Racing School and the What It Takes Foundation both headquartered Philadelphia.