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Daily CSR

Daily CSR
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History and heritage gives sense of pride belonging to African Americans


A young lad recounts his experience in college and how Oakland Technical High School’s MDP program changed hi mindset.

Alonzo Henderson grew up in Oakland and didn't have many teachers. As a young black man, he always assumed that the educators around him did not understand his experiences and interests. But by the time he entered Oakland Technical High School, he enrolled in his Manhood Development Program (MDP), which specializes in the achievements of African-American men. That is when his mindset underwent change.

“I was taught about my history, my heritage and the importance of everything that I may come across as a Black man,” said Alonzo. “It made me care about my education that much more because I felt like I was cared about as a young Black boy within the system.”

Today, Alonzo is a media, communications and technical assistant for Kingmakers of Oakland, and through the organization he works closely with the same MDP program he benefits from. When he returned to visit MDP students at Oakland Technical High School, he came as a mentor.

Kingmaker of Oakland is a non-profit organization that improves the lives of black youth in the public school system. Born out of the Oakland Unified School District's Office of African American Male Achievement, the organization was established as an independent non-profit in 2019. Its programs are focused on improving improve curriculum, educational opportunities and change the lives of problem stories.

“We offer something that is really unique,” said Chris Chatmon, Chief Executive Officer of Kingmakers of Oakland. “It centers around those furthest from opportunity, but it also engages the mindsets of the adults who are around them. We do this to show the need to create a place where they see the beauty, brilliance and innate greatness of Black boys.”

Much work is needed to realize this bold vision. Kingmakers of Auckland hosts workshops for young people and educators, organizes college preparatory programs such as fellowship initiatives, drives curricular change and gives young people a voice through media programs spanning music, film and the arts. I help raise.

In Auckland, the black student graduation rate improved from 42% to 57%, and his GPA among students who attended the program was 25% higher than his. The program was recently rolled out nationwide. Five years ago, Anthony Shoecraft brought his organizational skills and lessons to Seattle. Seattle has a serious resource gap for black youth, he opined.

“There is no school district in this country that was born and constructed to serve Black boys,” says Anthony. “School systems are not cultivating their talents and their core genius to be our next CEOs and community leaders.” But through Kingmakers of Oakland, Anthony says Seattle is trying something different.

The City of Seattle has been so impressed with the program that it has invested in expanding it across the school district by 2025.

With new grants from the Gilead Foundation's Potential Creation Fund, Kingmakers of Auckland will be able to fully fund programs such as the MDP and encourage work between facilitators and students. Research shows that differences in education mirror differences in health, and the Creating Possible Foundation will provide resources to organizations that follow the Gilead Foundation's vision of promoting equity in education to achieve health equity. devoted to It also has the specific goal of building a sustainable pipeline of black health leaders.

“I'm excited about the opportunity to be in a community with Gilead Foundation’s other grantees and learn from them and act as a movement,” says Chris. “How do we leverage this collective genius and double down on this investment to go farther, faster?”

For Kingmakers of Oakland, it has always been about amplifying its efforts to make a big difference.

“It’s about everyone’s commitment to being bold and unapologetic in declaring that the lives of Black boys matter,” said Anthony. “Focusing on the needs of Black youth will help us achieve our universal goal of educational equity.”