PROJECT15 | City of Ideas

Posted 12/04/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
The educational and leadership crisis in African American communities in Boston is severe. Boston is a tale of two cities.  Venerable institutions are surrounded by communities where crime, gang involvement and drugs are accepted as a way of life.  Too many few young men of color in Boston fail to graduate from high school. Additionally the same population are not receiving the proper mentorship, guidance and community support to make prosperous life or career decisions.

Research and studies that young men of color specifically those ages 13 to 15 are usually at a crossroads and have a number of negative stereotypes and pressures from media, and society at-large. Many are in this transitional phase from teenage puberty into adulthood. With the "aging out" of many after school programs for this age group and their new found independence,  most black and brown boys find themselves isolated and alone.  It is at this stage when gang culture becomes attractive for young men of color.   The non-existence of support systems and mentoring programs, the absence of fathers in the family structure, and limited positive peer interaction for young men of color are often found in gangs.  Criminal legal trouble and juvenile delinquency becomes prevalent around this age group.  We plan to utilize "wrap around services" with the parents and families as well as provide each individual young man of color with a mentor to work with them.

Project Proposed:
Research on delinquency points to a host of social, economic and other factors that lead many young men in inner cities to contribute to violence which leads to their inception in the court system.  Many young people at this age are surrounded by violence, crime and gang activity and many of these young black and brown boys believe that there are limited opportunities for life and career success.  The financial and non-profit sectors to support young boys through this collaboration,  PROJECT15 will bring a host of resources, networks, and adult male mentors of color from the financial and non-profit sectors to enter this crucial transitional period.

PROJECT15 is a collaboration between nonprofit agencies, advocacy groups, a municipal entity and a local entrepreneur.  The project will set up mentoring relationships and "wrap around services" to over twenty (20) black and brown boys ages 13 - 15 years old and their families who have been identified by Boston Youth Options Unlimited Program as "high risk" (court involved and/or gang affiliated).  The collaborators (NBCA, ABCD, MJE, YOU, DCBK) will offer a number of "wrap-around" services to help the program participants successfully reach the age of 15 years old.  At this time and the culmination on their 16th birthday, youth would have been exposed to a number of other non-profits and teenage programs to help them to continue a successful life, college and career options.

Role of Collaboration:
Youth Options Unlimited Boston will refer black and brown boys ages 13-15 from their case management to PROJECT15. The Youth Options Unlimited Boston will provide casework services for these boys in PROJECT15. 

The National Black College Alliance will provide one-on-one mentors who are recent Black college graduates that live in the same neighborhoods (Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan)  where the young people are from and expose them to life and career and college options through their program and network.

The Mothers for Justice & Equality will provide several discussion groups and workshops with the parents especially the mothers of the boys involved with PROJECT15. 

ABCD Elm Hill Family Service Center will provide meeting space for the boys involved in PROJECT 15 to meet with their NBCA college mentors. In addition, PROJECT15 participants will be eligible for a summer employment at the ABCD Summer Jobs Program at the ABCD Elm Hill Site.  The families of PROJECT15 participants will also be eligible to receive "wrap around" services for their households from ABCD. 

Darryl Settles, the owner of Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen located in the South End/Roxbury has offered to host the PROJECT15 participants, their families, program mentors, and the program collaborators for a kick-off event and a culmination event at his restaurant.  In addition, some Project 15 participants will be offered positions in his restaurants as bus-boys and food servers and will be able to interact with many of Boston's Black community, non-profit and political leaders.

Impact:
A Collaborate Boston Prize will better enable the PROJECT15 Collaboration to improve the lives and futures of black and brown boys ages 9-15 in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.  This project will highlight the power of community groups working together can help the success of young people in their neighborhoods.  The prize would help to advance our work for providing a model on how grassroots groups and initiatives are just as important in "helping a village raise a child."  Over the years, these important community based networks have evaporated due to limited to no support of funders in the Boston area.  Project 15 utilizes the importance of community networks and "thriving people" (through the NBCA & MJE Network) and "thriving places" (through ABCD Elm Hill and DCBK) as key networks and key meeting places to support this work. The PROJECT15 program can be used as a model for other communities and cities to replicate.

Other information:
The collaboration of these long standing community based groups, individuals and leaders will create a well established infrastructure within Boston's Black and Brown community.

Primary Contact:
National Black College Alliance (NBCA) is an extended network of college students, alumni, and community members who are committed to mentoring the next generation of community leaders in Boston. Founded in 2000 by Boston-area Black college students and alumni, NBCA has worked in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan particularly around Grove Hall and Dudley Square, to create positive role models and support for urban Black youth, counteracting negative stereotypes as well as the realities of gangs, drugs, and violence affecting many urban communities. Our two main strategies are to support college access and success for students of color, particularly those experiencing inter-generational poverty; and to promote community engagement and community-based leadership in Boston's Black neighborhoods (NBCA's Greatest MINDS Community Engagement Initiative) . Like Collaborate Boston, we believe in the importance of educational opportunities and of social connections that promote success for both individuals and communities.

The National Black College Alliance will serve as the fiscal agent for the PROJECT15 for the partners.  The National Black College Alliance is the only education and mentoring non-profit founded and run by Black Bostonians in the last ten years.

NBCA's Board of Directors meets monthly and is active in directing the organization and its activities. NBCA's work is made possible by volunteers—we have 200 available volunteers at any given time. Volunteering not only makes our work possible; it is fundamental to our mission of service to the community and civic engagement.

George "Chip" Greenidge, Jr. is the founder and executive director of the National Black College Alliance, and has 20 years' experience working with youth and in community development in Boston. His employment experience includes director of Cambridge Area 4 Youth Center, the Boston Foundation and for the Boston City Council, and he has served on several non-profit boards in Boston including President of the Board of Boston Connects/Boston Empowerment Zone, a federal economic development initiative for urban neighborhoods.

Partner 1:
Youth Options Unlimited Boston (YOU) is a city-wide program that provides essential services to over 300 high risk youth annually.  Court-involved young people ages 14-24, are referred to YOU for intensive case management, educational support and placement, job readiness training through subsidized employment and assistance with job placement to include long-term occupational skills training and private sector placement.  YOU staff focus on a team approach, creating individual service plans with young people to ensure that they are moving toward attaining life. education and employment goals that will lead to self-sufficiency.  This program is a part of the City of Boston Mayor's Office of Jobs and Community Service.

Partner 2:
ABCD Elm Hill Family Service Center is the Roxbury affiliate of the ABCD organization. Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) is an anti-poverty and community development organization founded in 1961.  ABCD runs a variety of programs for individuals and families living in the City of Boston. The agency's stated goal through these programs is to "meet needs, empower individuals and families, and strengthen communities." These programs include Career Development, Charitable Campaigns, Early Child Care & Education, Elder Services, Financial Futures Initiative, Food Pantries, Fuel Assistance/Energy Conservation, Health Services, Housing & Homelessness Prevention, Youth Development and a Summer Youth Jobs program which employs thousands of youth throughout Boston each year.

Partner 3:
Mother for Justice and Equality (MJE) was founded in the fall of 2010 in response to the murders of young people in the City of Boston.  A group of women, each of whom had suffered losses of children to violence, came together with the vision of a world in which it is never normal or acceptable for children to be murdered.  MJE’s purpose is to unite the community in an effort to end neighborhood violence by engaging mothers in solving the crisis of violence on our streets. Like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MJE believes that, if given the right tools, mothers can become catalysts for change at home and advocates for change in their neighborhoods.  The mission of Mothers for Justice and Equality is to end neighborhood violence.  By empowering our members to be effective change-makers, MJE reclaims the identity of our communities and restore a sense of hope and purpose for our children.

Partner 4:
Darryl Settles is the restaurant owner of Darryl's Corner Bar and Kitchen (DCBK) and President of D'Ventures Limited, LLC, a business consulting and investment company based in Boston, Massachusetts where he has successfully fused his passions for music and hospitality by incorporating civic engagement and social entrepreneurship.  Mr. Settles is recognized as an innovative restaurant entrepreneur and an icon in Boston's hospitality industry,  In 1990, Mr. Settles purchased legendary South End soul food restaurant Bob the Chef’s and turned it into New Orleans-accented eatery and jazz club Bob’s Southern Bistro. He went on to help found the BeanTown Jazz Festival and was part of the trio behind the Beehive restaurant and lounge.  After Bob’s Southern Bistro closed in 2007, the Columbus Avenue space briefly became Circle, a pricey French cafe, then Stork Club Boston, a restaurant/lounge with nightly live music. Almost two years ago, Settles reclaimed the location and opened Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen.  Promoting itself as “the intersection of friends, food and music,” DCBK attracts one of the city’s most diverse clientele ranging in all ages, races and socioeconomic classes visiting his restaurant. They come for the welcoming vibe. They come for the nightly live music. And they come for the cuisine — a mix of Cajun and comfort cooking. Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen (DCBK) is the only African American owned restaurant and nightclub in the city of Boston.

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