Sam Killermann’s “The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender” is a refreshing book written in a contemporary style by a metrosexual comedian who understands and truly gets that there are as many variations of gender expression as there are people — and he wants you to get that, too.
Some cultural norms simply seem insurmountable, unchanging and unyielding. Young adults of color report feeling double the whammy from both race and gender, that each gender within their ethnicity or race has specific standards of behavior within the family, the community and society.
The two and a half-year-old Latino Men and Boys Program, run by the Oakland, Calif.-based Unity Council, expanded this past fall to serve 130 youth in five sites, triple its original membership. With a mission to increase high school graduation and career possibilities for young Latinos through connections to positive male role models and culturally relevant programming, the program also added a community-organizing component this year. “We’re … teaching them how to advocate for their educational future,” with organizing focused around changing the funding formula for public schools, said Paul Flores, manager of the program, which provides health, academic support and character development during the school day, and employment training and cultural activities during out-of-school time. The philosophy of the Latino Men and Boys Program is based around the concept of “Joven Noble,” translated loosely as “honorable young man rites of passage,” which talks about the cultural basis for manhood in traditional Latino and Native American cultures, Flores said. “We understand our role based on our traditions — how to reconnect with a manhood that is a positive image of macho, who honors his work, sets a good example, doesn’t bring harm to others, takes responsibility,” Flores explained.
Program seeks higher-ed over incarceration, but hurdles remain difficult to clear
When his fellow inmates in a juvenile lockup on Rikers Island first told him about CASES – the abbreviated name for Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services – Antonio*, then 17, paid little attention. “In my mind, it was like, another program — I’m not gonna go,” Antonio said. But once he got in more trouble with the law and ran out of options to secure his release, Antonio reconsidered his standoffish view toward the diversion program. Now 18 years old and in his third semester at Hostos Community College in The Bronx, Antonio is one of CASES’ biggest champions. After earning his GED through CASES’ Young Adult Scholars program, and then enrolling in the organization’s collegeawareness and skills prep program, Next Steps, Antonio credits CASES with providing crucial financial assistance and guidance to get on track to earn some sort of postsecondary credential, which research shows will be required by about two-thirds of all jobs by 2018.
New York club gears staff, programming, approach to needs of boys and young men
“We’re very proud to have been part of that history,” said Rashida Abuwala, chief program officer. “But our focus on singlegender programming was somewhat inharmonious with the [national organization’s] focus on boys and girls. We decided to leave the national consortium and become an independent organization. We maintain a very positive relationship with BGCA.”The 137-year-old Boys Club of New York (BCNY) provides out-of-school time programming for boys and young men ages 6 to 20 in three locations. A founding member of the Boys Club of America, which decades later became the Boys & Girls Clubs, the New York club “amicably parted ways” with the national organization in 2005.
Program Works to Get Low-income Students into More Selective Colleges
Rashid’s job is to turn that kind of thinking around.When students at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School visit Alysha Rashid for advice on which college to attend, often – for reasons of affordability and wanting to stay close to home – they don’t think of leaving the city. She does so as a college advisor for College Match, a new counseling initiative being implemented on a one-year basis in New York City by the social policy and research organization MDRC. The College Match initiative seeks to combat “undermatch,” a term used to describe when high-performing students from low-income families settle for less selective colleges than the ones they are academically qualified to attend. Higher education experts say academically capable students who go to less-selective colleges end up hurting their chances of graduation, since graduation rates are lower at less selective colleges. Completion at stake
Nearly 60 percent of students from families with incomes in the lowest quartile enrolled in colleges for which they were overqualified, according to an MDRC brief titled, “Make Me a Match: Helping Low-Income and First-Generation Students Make Good College Choices.”
“We know if they match up to those top-tier, selective institutions, that their likelihood of completion increases,” said Awilda Rodriguez, a higher-education research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AIE) a think tank in Washington, D.C.
Indeed, the MDRC brief says the effect of undermatch is particularly striking.
Organizations strategize to help kids 'dream again'
“We could do a flea market,” suggests Faisal Gedi, a tall high school senior of Somali descent. Three teenagers and an adult advisor cluster around a table in the community center in Clarkston, Ga., a small town on the edge of Atlanta. They’re brainstorming. “What about a walk-a-thon?” asks Kim An Ta, a 12th-grader whose parents came from Vietnam. It’s a meeting of the Clarkston Youth Initiative, one of a number of youth program in this small city, whose population is more than half made up of refugees.
In 2006, a report by the Girls’ Coalition of Greater Boston criticized afterschool programs for overlooking the needs of girls. The report said the needs of boys were assumed to be the norm and, in some cases, gender stereotypes were reinforced. It sought to prod changes within programs, and it pointed out funding disparities. This was not the first assertion that girls were being shortchanged. Studies have pointed out a lack of science and technology education for girls and drops in girls’ confidence in the classroom.