From Boys to Men Creating Positive Futures for Black and Brown Boys | City of Ideas
Issue to be Addressed:
From Boys to Men (FB2M): Creating Positive Futures for Black and Brown Boys will address their exposure to violence, victimization and gang perpetration targeting boys living in Dorchester, one of Boston’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods. Fields Corner, the area of focus for FB2M, is among Dorchester’s most violent communities. In response, two Fields Corner organizations, DotWell and the Dorchester Youth Collaborative (DYC) will unite with the Harbor Pilot Middle School to launch FB2M. Targeting 30 6th grade black and brown boys at the Harbor School, FB2M will provide the safe spaces, resources and positive role models to guide them along on a pathway to finish high school, graduate college and become gainfully employed and engaged members of our community. A key FB2M goal is to provide the social emotional support needed to assure their transition from a hard childhood to successful adulthood. Furthermore, FB2M will test a therapeutic mentoring approach for boys who, due to their particular life circumstances, may require a more intensive intervention.
Sixth-grade boys are at the most impressionable and vulnerable stage of their lives. They are also prime targets for gang recruitment. The Harbor will select 30 students who will benefit most from participating in FB2M. We will follow them throughout middle and high school, assisting with their transition to high school and college. In the first year of FB2M, we will engage them in various activities, e.g., swimming, basketball, arts, theater, computer skills, financial literacy, and community service, etc. In year two and beyond, we will deepen their knowledge in their areas of interest by offering, e.g., CPR/first aid and lifeguard training, IC 3 computer training leading to certification, IRS tax preparer certification, etc. FB2M constants will include a focus on academic success and parent engagement. We will seek technical assistance in developing strategies for engaging parents understanding that there is great difficulty in that area. Foremost, FB2M will help our boys to develop trusting relationships with adults. If it is determined that any of the boys have deeper issues, we will investigate therapeutic mentoring, to assure they have one-on-one strength-based, intensive support. We are currently reviewing the CBITS (Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools) curriculum as a possibility.
Role of Collaboration:
According to the US census, 3,090 boys between the ages of 10 and 14 reside in the Dorchester neighborhood we serve: 2,294, black, 796 brown. While we are unable to reach all, FB2M will reach some. Sixty-four black and brown boys are part of the Harbor School’s current sixth grade population. Thirty six (36) live within the FB2M target area. The most prominent concerns regarding these boys include low academic achievement, high absenteeism and exposure to violence, both on the street and within the home. The Harbor School will identify the boys who are most in need of FB2M.
Research suggests that by establishing trusting and consistent relationships with adult role models, young people will develop improved educational, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes. Mentoring is the foundation of all DYC programs. In addition to individual and group mentoring for FB2M youth, DYC will offer safety and conflict resolution, tutoring and homework assistance, and, finally, media and performance arts to teach youth how to dig deep within themselves. DYC mentors will also provide counseling and referrals to other services, such as health and behavioral health services, family support, and summer programs.
DotWell will bring a multi-layered approach to FB2M exposing participants to programming focused on: academic achievement, hands on workforce development, health and wellness, money management, civic/community leadership, and sports/recreation. DotWell is dedicated to improving the health of the community. As such, DotWell will work with FB2M and DotWell’s founding health centers to find a strategy for rolling out therapeutic mentoring to youth outside of the traditional behavioral health office setting so as to lessen the stigma that parents feel when it is suggested that their children need such a referral.
The overall impact that FB2M will have is that it will prevent black and brown 6th grade boys from engaging in self-destructive behaviors by providing opportunities to develop skills (theater, arts, computer certification, lifeguard training, etc) that will foster positive social and emotional development, assuring their successful transition from childhood to adulthood.
Funding will be used to create a structure to identify and link boys to these opportunities and access to behavioral health services for their social emotional growth. The outcomes we anticipate for these 30 youth include: an increased sense of self worth; an increase in life skills (leadership, teamwork); an increase in positive life choices (avoidance of risk behaviors); improved academic performance; a decrease in school-related behavior issues; and developing and maintaining positive core values (honesty, empathy, accountability) while becoming more focused on civic and community engagement.
Because therapeutic mentoring programs like CBITS uses role modeling for participants, teaching and having them practice alternative strategies to different social contexts and interactions, we envision that FB2M youth will begin to: develop realistic hopes and expectations; perceive that social supports are available to them; and feel independent, capable and in control. Finally, they will begin to demonstrate an increased resiliency.
Although FB2M is a new collaborative venture, FB2M members have previous and current histories working together to improve the lives of Boston area youth. The DotWell/Harbor School Summer Learning Project serves rising 6th and 7th graders for 5 weeks over the summer with a goal of reversing summer learning loss in language arts and math by integrating academics, enrichment, and skill development.
DotWell and DYC were long-time Safe City Initiative partners, helping youth, ages 12-17, learn to practice healthy behaviors, avoid delinquency, gang membership and/or violence.
One of DotWell’s founding partners, Dorchester House Multi-Service Center operates a School-Based Health Center at the Harbor providing behavioral health services to students. Finally, DotWell will use connections to its two founding health center partners, Dorchester House and Codman Square Health Center, to secure health and behavioral health services and referrals for FB2M boys.
Karen van Unen has been the Chief Operating Officer of DotWell since 2005. She is former Board President of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. DotWell was created by Codman Square Health Center and Dorchester House Multi-Service Center and represents a unique model of a health center partnership that addresses educational, economic, and social as well as physical health. DotWell has nearly 15 years experience working with youth at high risk for school drop-out, violence and substance abuse. Michelle Rue, Director of Health, Education and Outreach, will oversee FB2M.
Emmett Folgert is the co-founder and Executive Director of DYC. He has a Master’s in Education and is a guest lecturer at Harvard and Northeastern Universities. DYC opened in 1981 with a mission to reduce the fear and hopelessness of lower-income urban teens. The Center is their respite from difficult lives at home or on the street, where they can relax in a safe, informal setting and have access to challenging opportunities that promote their development, self worth, and a sense of belonging. Attendance averages 100 youth, ages 10 to 22, daily and 400 youth annually. Folgert will oversee FB2M.
Leah Blake has been principal of the Harbor School for two years. She has degrees from Bostn College and Lesley University. The Harbor is part of the Boston Public School system, currently serving 239students in grades 6-8. The school will expand to 9th and 10th grade in September 2013. The school’s mission is committed to the total success of their students through a rigorous standards-based curriculum, integrated and adaptive technologies. Fhynita Brinson, Harbor’s Family and Community Outreach Engagement Coordinator, will oversee FB2M