Man UP Fellowship Program | City of Ideas

Posted 12/13/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Throughout the U.S., black & brown boys are under-represented in rigorous instruction, gifted and talented programs, honors/AP courses and International Baccalaureate programs and over-represented in discipline referrals and suspension/expulsion rates. The proportion of black & brown boys in correctional facilities is greater than their proportion to the overall population. An argument has been made that there is a pre-k to prison pipeline that will not be averted without serious intervention on their behalf.   This project will respond to the crisis facing black and brown boys by providing them with training that strengthens their minds, bodies, and spirits.  Specifically, this project will: 1) build the participants’ academic, personal and professional skills through training on public speaking, conflict resolution, study skills, artistic expression, and through internships in the private and public sector; 2) improve their overall health and wellness through a rigorous exercise and nutrition component and 3) strengthen their self-esteem and mental fortitude through motivational workshops and activities led (whenever possible) by black and brown men from the community.  This program will focus on creating well-rounded young men with an enlightened vision of what is possible for their future.

Project Proposed:
This will be a collaborative project with the Boston Renaissance Charter School (BRCS), the OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center (OCAC), and UPstander International (UI). Together we will operate an 8-week summer fellowship program for 20 black and brown boys ages 9-12 who are enrolled at the BRCS.   The program will operate Monday - Friday from 9am - 5pm during the months of June and July.  In addition to workshops and activities held on site, participants will attend field trips, participate in at least two overnight retreats, and be placed in internships with local businesses.  They will also work as a group to plan and execute a service project. The program will culminate with a Rights of Passage program open to the participants friends and family members during which time they will present the work accomplished during the program.  Participants will attend monthly workshops and events during the academic year following the summer program to monitor their progress in and out of school and maintain their fellowship community.  They will also be paired with a mentor for continued support.

Role of Collaboration:
The collaboration consists of two organizations and one consultant with the combined expertise and professional networks to successfully carry out this project:

BRCS is the largest elementary school in Boston and works with many of city’s most underserved children.  BRCS will identify students from its population who present with the greatest needs for participation in the program.  It will also provide space and dedicate staff to provide academic support and supervise college students who will be hired to provide tutoring and run math labs. 

For 18 years, OCAC has been at the forefront of artistic and social programming for the youth of Boston. OCAC will coordinate the health and wellness component of the project.  Its Tae Kwon Do instructor (a 4th degree black belt and certified BPS teacher) will develop a challenging training program that promotes discipline and self-control.  OCAC will also produce workshops on a range of topics including:  artistic development, cultural awareness, conflict resolution and nutrition.   In addition, OCAC will coordinate internship placements and serve as the project’s fiscal administrator.

UI works with schools and government groups in developing strategies to leverage diversity of all members of organizations to ensure that the most inclusive environment for success is achieved for all. UI has worked nationally and internationally with over 75,000 young people on their personal growth and development.  UI will be responsible for the development trainings in areas such as public speaking, media training, and overall preparation for the professional world.  UI will also manage the program evaluation and publish the curriculum for project replication.

There are several ways that the Collaborate Boston prize will not just improve the lives of the black & brown boys involved, it will change their lives. These students will be prepared to become global citizens and expand their boundaries beyond their neighborhoods thus realizing their environment doesn’t create who they are, they do. The internship program will expose these students to potential careers in media, law, law enforcement, education, the arts and more. In Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, it is not uncommon for some students to never leave their neighborhoods. This program is specifically designed to increase the options that these students believe are available to them. The personal development portion of the program will improve the communication skills of these students as young public speakers as well as their personal appearance where necessary. Students will learn to dress for where they are going, not for where they are. The enhanced academic enrichment will give students additional academic assistance so that students can reach their full academic potential. Receiving a Collaborate Boston prize would enable us to pilot this project and leverage our success to replicate this model in other schools across the city.

Primary Contact:
Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga is the founding Executive & Artistic Director of OrigiNation, Inc., a nonprofit performance arts organization which serves approximately 4,800 boys and girls ages 3-18 annually through its local, national and international programs annually.   Since founding OrigiNation in 1994, Mrs. Dibinga has received numerous awards for her work with OrigiNation including the prestigious Upstander’s Portraits of Courage Award, The Boston Fellows Award, The Barr Foundation's Barr Fellows class of 2011, The Boston Renaissance Charter Public School Living Legends Award, the Urban Edge Unsung Heroes Award, the Boston Chapter of the NAACP Image Award, and more.  Shaumba-Yandje is also the author of the poetry book "Pride in My Stride".  She has over 30 years of dance training, performing and teaching experience.

Partner 1:
Dr. Roger F. Harris has devoted 36 years working with youth in Boston’s public schools.  He is the founder and current Superintendent, Chief Executive Officer, and member of the Board of Trustees for BRCS. He is the former Principal of the two-time National Blue Ribbon Award winning Timilty Middle School. He is co-founder of the award-winning Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, founder and President of Urban School Specialists, LLC, and Executive Producer of “It Takes a Village” an educational video series aired on the Boston Neighborhood Network’s cable channel. He has been the recipient of numerous civic and community awards, including the 2000 United States Department of Education’s John Stanford Education Heroes Award, the 2001 Massachusetts Elementary Principals Association’s Principal of the Year Award, and the 2001 U. S. Department of Education’s National Distinguished Principal Award.

Partner 2:
Omékongo Dibinga is Director of UPstander International.   Omékongo is a motivational speaker, trilingual poet, CNN contributor, and TV talk show host. UPstander International provides educational and diversity consulting and training for organizations, associations and institutions. This work has been globally adapted for curricula in primary, secondary, and university institutions. UPstander International has produced 7 fusion music and motivational CDs, 5 books, and one independent DVD. He is the author of several books including book “G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness! 10 Steps to Living Your Best Life”. A former teacher in the Boston Public School System , Omekongo has extensive experience leading workshops for youth in a variety of settings including adult and youth detention center.  Omekongo received his Masters in  from Tufts University and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Maryland. He is a native of  Roxbury, MA who holds a 1st degree blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do.

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