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New collaboratives aim to guide Black and Latino teens

Posted by Patrick Rosso  June 3, 2013 11:18 AM

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Two new youth programs were unveiled Thursday evening at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury aimed at supporting Black and Latino teens in the area.

The Codman Square Brotherhood Project and the Black and Latino Boys at STEM of Success, which each received a $50,000 grant from the Boston Foundation as part of its Collaborate Boston initiative, are unique in their own right.

Organizers, however, believe it’s the number of groups that came together to create the programs that will ultimately benefit area youth most.

“We know sometimes it’s not what you do, but how you do it,” explained Travis McCready, vice president for program at the Boston Foundation. “We understand that collaboration is the key to getting as many people connected to our young people.”

Made up of a number of community partners each program addresses the employment and educational challenges youth of color face in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.

Close to 70 separate applications were submitted for the proposal based grants. Another cycle of funding is expected to be available next year.

“At the end of the day it’s about the economy,"said McCready. "These young men need employment opportunities and we want them to have futures where they can dream and have sustainable jobs.”

The Black and Latino Boys at STEM of Success, a partnership between the Achievement Gap Office at Boston Public Schools, the Latino STEM Alliance, Suffolk Construction, and the Center for STEM Education at Northeastern University, aims to tackle science, technology, engineering, and math education in a way middle school boys can relate: robots.

“Robotics creates an opportunity to teach them about computer science, engineering, creative thinking, and team building,” explained Reinier Moquete, co-founder and chairman of the Latino STEM Alliance. “It’s about providing a diverse experience for our youth.”

STEM education isn't new, with schools across the city and country pushing classes.

Although Moquete’s group has already been working with area schools, the grant will allow them to expand the program into six new BPS schools in September.

“We are urban youth ourselves,” said Reinier. “We seldom had access to opportunities like this and we want our youth to have those chances.”

The second program, the Codman Square Brotherhood Project, represents a collaboration between the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Boston Project Ministries, Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, and the Boston Police Department’s District B3.

Using mentors, the program, born out of conversations generated by the grant-funded neighborhood group Millennium 10, aims to connect young men from the community not only with job skills, but older men who can help guide them to opportunities and away from the mistakes.

“Youth employment is one of the top issues in our communities,” said Keith Riddle, director of youth and family ministries for the Boston Project Ministries. “This program will bring youth of all different kinds into a supportive community.”

With weekly group meetings, a pre-employment program, and a mentoring program based off of one generated by the Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, organizers think the initiative will not only create community stewards, but youth with life skills who are eager to learn.

“Our hope is this collaboration will place boys on a path of leadership,” said Riddle.

In the end McCready said if conversations are being had and connections are being fostered to build community, the program is working.

"While the non-profit community does already collaborate, we wanted to provided additional incentives to reach across the aisle and produce new relationships," McCready said. "We wanted to create a realm of possibility and start unlocking that potential now."

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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