About 54 percent of African-Americans graduate from high school, that’s compared to more than 75 percent of their Caucasian and Asian peers, according to Good Shepherd Youth Outreach. It also said just 5.5 percent of black males 18 or older make up the college population.
Good Shepherd Youth Outreach is a nonprofit that got started 10 years ago. It’s goal is to employ prevention and intervention support programs for young men of color in Western Washington Communities, its website said.
Louis Guiden, Good Shepherd Youth’s president and founder, was able to bring this program to Foster High School and Showalter Middle School.
Guiden said the program is an in-school life skills class for young men in grades six to 12.
He said it got started in the Tukwila School District about six months ago, and has been proven to be successful.
“I was on a road of destruction. I wanted to better my life before I thought it was too late. I didn’t want to do it at first, but then I came to the program, I trusted the process and then it changed my life for the better. I’m happy I joined the program,” said Tyrone Tate, a student in the Tukwila School District.
According to Guiden, Good Shepherd came to Tukwila based on data.
“We look at the data with the school district. We’re looking at criminal data, dropout data, economic data, what’s going on in the community, this is why it’s needed,” he said.
He also said its based on the climate of the school and the culture of the school.
And then it’s up to teachers to see who would really benefit from the program. Once those students are chosen, Guiden said those students can recruit others they think would do well in the program.
During each class that the program offers during the four-week summer camp, Guiden said students learn about a curriculum called “PACT.”
“(PACT stands for)Perceptions, Actions, Choice and Time. Inside the modules, we teach them about self-identity, who they are and teach them about the different actions, conflict resolution and then time is pretty much to set goals and achieve your goals,” he explained.
Guiden said he is able to connect well with students because he is also a man of color.
“It’s culturally relevant. We connect with the youth, background they’ve gone through, I’m an African-American male so being inside an predominant white institution, that’s why it makes it relevant. The young men, they see me and they’re like, “Wow, you’re in my classroom, my school, you know, my story — you connect with me — that’s what makes them want to engage with these types of programs,” he said.
During the four-week program students were also able to go on two field trips. The most influential one was when the group went to the Microsoft campus in Redmond.
“I’ve learned a lot from this program. Like, how I could be a better leader, how I could use my skills on how to be a better person. Like when we went to Microsoft I saw a lot of job opportunities and how I can really succeed in life,” said Adean Batinj, a student from the Tukwila School District.
The group of students are able to name themselves as a whole. Guiden said this group decided on Covenant of Brothers (COB).
Next year, the program will continue at Foster and Showalter since it was so successful this year, according to Guiden.
“Anytime you can get young men to be engaged, stay consistent, show up, that’s success. They’re here, they’re learning, they’re excited, yeah it’s a success,” he said. “I see the relationship piece, the cognitive piece, them starting to think differently about themselves, starting to think differently about their community, family. The biggest thing is their education.”