A new MPS campaign to “save our sons” will provide mentors for at-risk young men at 10 public high schools.
Called “Saving Our Sons—I Will Not Die Young,” the mentoring program will consist of conflict-resolution training, group sessions and weekly meetings, said Dr. Eric Gallien, MPS school support specialist.
Individuals interested in being mentors are invited to sign up for mentoring training that will take place on Jan. 21 at MPS District Headquarters, 5225 W. Vliet St. The training will be conducted by 100 Black Men of Greater Milwaukee, whose mission is to improve economic and educational opportunities for African Americans.
The launch of the campaign, which took place at Coffee Makes You Black, 2803 N. Teutonia Ave., featured speakers such as MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton and Michelle Pitts-Luckett, of Pitts Funeral Home, both of whom addressed the need to keep young males in school and the importance of the community banding together around this issue.
“If each and every last one of us would reach out to our community and try and do something, I promise you, your living will not be in vain,” Pitts- Luckett said to applause from the audience.
MPS has teamed up with the Greater Milwaukee chapter of 100 Black Men and Flood the Hood with Dreams, a conflict-resolution training program, to give students a platform to speak about the problems they face.
The Milwaukee Bucks, Alderman Joe Davis, African World Festival Group and others have expressed interest in serving as mentors.
With the help of Flood the Hood with Dreams, mentors will work through the remainder of the school year with at-risk students to help them earn better grades and improve school attendance. Bradley Tech, Hamilton, Morse-Marshall, North Division, Pulaski, Riverside, Rufus King, South Division, Vincent and Washington Information Technology will participate in the program.
School staff will identify participants based on attendance or achievement problems, said Gallien. He also stated that the program is important because young men “don’t necessarily have an outlet” to speak out about the problems they may face.
Although the launch focused on male students, the program also will work with female students in a “mirror project” consisting of the same activities to help maintain good grades and a high attendance rate.
The program will be considered a success, according to Gallien, if there is a positive change in attendance, grades and test scores.
“This is part of a larger initiative to increase students’ engagement in their school communities,” said Thornton. “We’re being proactive, creating school cultures in which students feel they have a vested interest.”