Posted 01/06/2013 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
The struggles of minority males with and without disabilities are well documented:

Employment:  44% of youth with disabilities out of school three to five years are unemployed. Minority youth with disabilities are less likely to be employed than White youth.  Employment options are similarly challenged for minority youth without disabilities, particularly dropouts.  Boston ranks 44th nationally for employment among dropouts and is particularly punishing for Black and Latino males, who earn less and are more likely to be institutionalized than White males.

Graduation: Boston’s dropout rate for youth with disabilities is higher than for non-disabled youth.  Over-representation of such youth in the justice system continues; youth with emotional disturbances and learning disabilities are the most likely to become involved in the system. The crisis extends beyond disability; the 2000 Census reported 70% of Boston’s dropouts were Black or Latino youth.

Academic Success:  2011 BPS MCAS scores report only 25% and 21% of 10th graders with disabilities are proficient in English and math, respectively.  Indeed, proficiency for youth with disabilities remains below 25% for all grades and subjects.  Inequality between minority and White youth remains:  7th grade math proficiency for Black (21%), Latino (26%) and White (60%) youth illustrates this discrepancy.

Project Proposed:
CEO will bring Partners for Youth with Disabilities’  (PYD) time-tested Young Entrepreneurs Project to three Boston Boys & Girls Clubs (Blue Hill, Orchard Gardens, Yawkey).  CEO will serve minority males ages 12 – 15 with and without disabilities at these sites.  The program is uniquely positioned to address all three of the struggles, above, by building career-readiness skills via a curriculum that supports achievement in state English and math standards. 

CEO will meet weekly for the entirety of the school year and will engage youth via a three-tiered curriculum: 

Academic Learning: Youth will complete a course regarding financial literacy, job-readiness and entrepreneurship.  Curriculum emphasizes real-world skills, including interest inventories, resume writing, mock interviews, stress and time management and future planning.  Instruction provides participants tangible outcomes they can apply directly to a job search. 

Real-world Experiences:  The curriculum is supplemented by Guest Speakers, Job Shadow Days and Trade Shows. CEO participants will design and implement real businesses in their communities.  In short, CEO will make ongoing connections between the classroom and community.

Mentoring: Mentors from the business community will assist youth in practicing professionalism, planning career and educational goals via Guest Lectures, hosting Job Shadow Days and mock interviews.

Role of Collaboration:
CEO will provide a comprehensive and collaborative service:  PYD will hire a CEO Program Specialist to teach the curriculum and coordinate all enrichment activities; the Boys & Girls Clubs will provide meeting space and recruit participants; The Historic Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church, State Street Bank and the Young Professional Network (YPN) will each “adopt” a CEO site, completing two Guest Lectures and one Job Shadow for their respective participants.  Additionally, YPN will provide enrichment opportunities for all participants via their Youth Development committee; further, CEO graduates will have opportunities to participate in YPN after their CEO graduation.  Finally, Anthony "Ace" Thomas, a professional actor and rapper, will serve as a mentor to all three sites.

CEO will empower youth, impact the community at-large and expand the program’s existing capacity.  CEO will improve the lives and futures of participants by building career-readiness skills, cultivating life management skills and decreasing barriers to entrepreneurship.  Further, real-world experiences will help youth transition into adulthood and the workforce.  Thus, CEO will be a preventive intervention strategy providing youth the skills needed to enter into today’s economy while simultaneously helping them avoid society’s ills.

Quantifiable results from current YEP sites demonstrate the program’s success.  Foremost, pre and post program surveys demonstrate the program’s impact on participants’ academic and vocational future.  Last year, over 85% of participants noted that YEP:  increased their likelihood to attend school and seek employment during out-of-school time hours; helped them identify college or other post-secondary experiences as a goal; increased their awareness of career opportunities; improved their attitude toward goal setting, attainment and achievement; heightened their confidence in math and English classes and increased their connectedness to teachers and adult role models. 

Additionally, participants compile a career portfolio that provides qualitative data; this project includes a resume, cover letter, interest inventories and, when appropriate, letters of reference.

Other information:
A founding philosophy of CEO is that young people have the power to change their lives, their futures, and their communities.  Our goal is to engage young people with and without disabilities to be creative and innovative, take action, and inspire others. By starting as student-centered learners, they will become community-oriented leaders.

In the CEO classroom, curriculum will be experience-based and founded on the principles of Universal Design Learning, which provides a blueprint for creating flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that accommodate learner differences. The implication of “universal” is that there is no single optimal learning solution for everyone. Like student-centered learning, it is meant to underscore the need for multiple approaches tailored to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Primary Contact:
Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc. (PYD) is committed to empowering young people with disabilities to reach their full potential for personal development. We do this by providing high quality one-to-one and group mentoring programs where caring adults act as positive role models and provide support, understanding and guidance for youth as they strive to reach their personal, educational and career goals.  Programs are designed to provide opportunities for youth to gain control of their lives and to acquire the information, resources, and skills for lifelong growth and full participation in their communities.  Founded in 1985, PYD has provided services for over 10,000 people with disabilities throughout Massachusetts. 

Alex Freeman, Acting YEP Director, is passionate about providing quality programs and education experiences for youth with disabilities.  Alex's interests stem from his studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in Psychology and Studio Art.  His career began when he taught middle school Special Education through the Teach for America program in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Alex moved to Boston in 2008, when he became the Mentor Match Specialist with PYD.  Alex has returned to PYD after working for two years as a volunteer manager at a local Aging Service Access Point.   Alex is also pursuing his School Psychology master's degree at Tufts University.

Partner 1:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to help young people, especially those who need us most, build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders.  CEO will partner with three Boys and Girls Clubs (Blue Hills, Orchard Gardens and Yawkey). 

Blue Hills Boys & Girls Club key staff includes Peter Rosemond, Director of Operations, Yeijde Najee-Ullah, Teen Assistant and Lauren Peckler, College Readiness Fellow.  Orchard Gardens Boys & Girls Club key staff includes Josh Davis, Director and Mike MacDonald, Director of Teen Programs.  Yawkey Boys & Girls Club key staff includes Hector Alvarez, Director and Brandon Drawhorn, Director of Teen Programs.

Partner 2:
The Historic Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church is interwoven with the history of African Americans in Boston.  With a foundation reaching as far back as 1818, Charles Street has recently focused on increasing its involvement in the Greater Boston community.  The church has been instrumental in bringing together public school officials, teachers, community leaders, parents and clergy in the planning and the development of the Black Ministerial Alliance (BMA) Victory Generation After-School Program.  In addition, the Charles Street congregation led in the sponsoring of numerous church-based community education summits on the MCAS Exams, School Promotion and Attendance Policies, and other issues.  Charles Street became the city’s model congregation in implementing the Ten Action Steps toward Becoming an Education-Conscious Congregation, which was unanimously adopted by the BMA. 

Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover, Sr. graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively. Rev. Groover completed his doctoral work (D.Min.) at the New York Theological Seminary. The focus of his demonstration project and dissertation was on the strategic development of faith based educational initiatives by urban African American congregations.  Rev. Groover was appointed Pastor in June 1994. Since arriving, Rev. Groover has significantly restructured and decentralized the management apparatus of the church, and increased participation, diversity, and accountability to the church’s membership. In addition he established new ministries, fellowship clusters, and professional related alliances aimed at building the congregational life and maximizing avenues in which members could share and cultivate their skills, talents, and gifts.

Partner 3:
State Street is a leading financial services provider serving some of the world’s most sophisticated institutions. The company offers a flexible suite of services that spans the investment spectrum, including investment management, research and trading, and investment servicing.

Inclusion and diversity are strategic imperatives at State Street.  As a global company, what State Street values most about its more than 29,000 employees are the qualities that make them unique — their experiences, interests and capabilities. Global Inclusion is a company-wide effort to ensure that every one of our employees feels engaged and valued by recognizing and utilizing their unique talents.

Kai Dickerson is State Street’s Disability Awareness Alliance Chairman.  A graduate of Bentley University, Kai is a business analyst at State Street as well as a self-employed event coordinator.

Partner 4:
The Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts is a chapter of the National Urban League Young Professionals and is one of over fifty chapters nationwide. Boston's chapter is an auxiliary which supports the Urban League Movement through volunteerism, philanthropy, and membership development.

The mission of the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts is to build community, promote personal and career development, and cultivate a welcoming, inclusive environment in Greater Boston for young people (ages 19 to 40) of color.

Charlene Luma, MSW, LICSW.  Charlene D. Luma is a native of Boston who has a passion for working with youth and adolescents in urban areas. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) that has over 9 years of experience. She is a Senior Clinician at a program in Boston that provides clinical services to youth & adults involved in the criminal justice system.  She is an alumnus of Boston College receiving both her Master’s in Social Work and Bachelor’s degree there. Charlene has been a member of the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (YPN-ULEM) since 2006 and currently serves as President. As a member, she is able to fulfill her passion and commitment for serving her community through volunteerism and philanthropy. In addition to volunteering through YPN-ULEM, Charlene has coordinated an annual Lupus Walk team to support those who are either living or have lost their lives to lupus. To date Charlene has assisted in raising almost $10,000 for The Lupus Foundation of New England, an organization of significance importance to her.

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  • # Brajendra's gravatar Brajendra said:
    6/16/2017 4:16 PM

    Social skills pormrags generally don't work. They are artificial scenarios that only fill the coffers of the organizations and companies that offer them. While they offer some structure and usually follow a curriculum, they are not an effective way of teaching skills and building relationships. Our experience was that the skills taught during the one hour sessions over a twelve week block were not generalized and transferred to outside the program no matter how hard we worked at it. Parents think they are doing something good for their child and often do not realize until almost the end that the program is mainly a waste of time. The friendships that started to develop during these sessions unfortunately do not continue outside of the program. The best way to learn social skills is in real life situations over time involving people of differing abilities in different settings. This can be carried out in school when there are adults who care. It might involve a student club, sports team or fundraising activity. It can be carried over in extracurriculars at the end of the school day. We had a high school track coach who took a special interest in our child and acted as a social facilitator during practices and at track meets. Our daughter's social skills blossomed because she was doing something she really enjoyed and others with the same interest showed a keen interest in her and they became social. This cannot happen in a social skills program run by workers who will only be in the child's life for the duration of the program. My recommendation is don't expect social skills pormrags to be the only answer. I do believe that life coaches and mentors are a good thing. They can play an ongoing and supportive role in a teen's life. We have had positive experiences with them involving our child. Sorry that I'm not positive about social skills pormrags. Maybe others have had successful experiences with a social skills program.