The youth are our key to success as a community. But how can people expect this success when it is hard to find resources for the youth?
The streets, gangs and violence are not the resources the community wants for our children. Yet these resources are sitting right on our doorstep. What can be done to push past the negativity?
Some parents have found solutions for their children, founding organizations whose sole purpose is to help students of color gain education and ultimately success.
There are many of these organizations, but three that have greatly affected the youth of New York City and the country are the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), A Better Chance (ABC), and Jack and Jill of America. Understanding the inequalities of being a student of color in an unproductive environment, these organizations want to stop the cycle that creates young, intelligent but unsuccessful men and women.
KIPP was founded in 1994 by two teachers, David Levin and Mike Feinberg, in Houston after they had completed the Teach for America program. They founded KIPP Academy Houston, a middle school, and later Levin returned home to found a KIPP middle school in the South Bronx.
These two founding schools have led the way for 109 KIPP schools to be opened. No longer just middle schools, KIPP has branched from elementary to high school.
Francis Corcoran has been working with KIPP since its start and is now principal of KIPP Academy in the South Bronx. He shared the effects KIPP has on students and their future.
“[KIPP] is preparing students’ character and academics to take them through high school, college and to succeed in the competitive world. We have given them the opportunities and value of character to have authority over their own lives.”
ABC was founded in 1963 to help propel students of color to positions of responsibility and leadership. Twenty-three headmasters of private parochial, day and boarding schools made a commitment to diversity, and ABC has helped them achieve this status.
There are ABC programs all over the country, organized by regional sections. Isabella Trauttmansdorff is the program manager for ABC Northeast and she spoke about what ABC stands for.
“Our mission is to change the trajectory for youth of color who are academically prepared by providing greater opportunities,” she said.
Trauttmansdorff also spoke about ABC’s upcoming anniversary: “We will be celebrating our 50th anniversary in two years, and with our 13,000 alumni, we hope to see all of them make great changes in society.”
Jack and Jill is an organization that has been around since 1938. Founded by 20 mothers, Jack and Jill supports children to stimulate their growth and development from ages 2 to 18. With 220 chapters nationwide, Jack and Jill want to provide children with opportunities.
Caryn Bailey of the Metropolitan chapter explained how Jack and Jill reaches out to families.
“[Jack and Jill] exposes middle and upper-class Black children to people like themselves and activities that expose them to the world.”
Bailey also spoke about an upcoming seminar that invites private schools to come and talk to parents from the city. The event will be held Oct. 1 at the Dalton School, at 108 E. 89th St.
All of these programs want to go beyond the expectation that students of color cannot succeed and aid them to fulfill their aspirations. They are committed to see young people succeed.
Hopefully, with these opportunities, children in these three programs and the many other organizations like them will change the world in ways unexpected.