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Boston launches new partnership with Becoming a Man program


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The program serves young men of color by providing school-based group counseling and mentoring services.


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Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang yesterday unveiled a new BPS partnership with Becoming a Man (BAM), a nationally-recognized program that successfully serves young men of color by providing school-based group counseling and mentoring services.

BAM, founded in Chicago in 2001, teaches valuable life skills to young men of color in at-risk communities. Researchers have found that BAM programming has increased on-time high school graduation rates and decreased arrest rates for the students it serves. BPS is the first district outside Chicago where BAM will expand.

"In the City of Boston, we are expanding pathways to success for young men of color," said Mayor Walsh. "BAM is a national model that has proven to yield positive results by offering valuable mentorship and support, and I am incredibly proud to mark another milestone in our efforts of opening doors of opportunity for our young men who will now have access to an expanded network of services."

Boston Becoming a Man (BAM) will begin its school-based group counseling and mentoring work in September with 150 young men at four schools: Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Dearborn STEM Academy, The English High School, and John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. Yesterday's announcement was made at the Burke with dozens of City, school, community leaders and students.

BAM builds off the successful work of the My Brother's Keeper initiative, which connects youth to mentors and lesson programming centered on social-emotional development, academic and career skills in a culturally proficient way.

"These young men come from different backgrounds, and all share the same ambition- to overcome obstacles, and achieve their dreams," said Conan Harris, Executive Director of MBK Boston. "I am proud that right here in Boston we are supporting this movement to lift up our young people and empower them to become leaders in the community that they come from."

"It's important that we continue to build on individualized approaches such as Becoming a Man to help our students become successful and to close opportunity and achievement gaps," said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O'Neill.

BAM delivers an innovative blend of clinical theory, men's rites of passage work, and a dynamic approach to youth engagement and mentoring that equips youth with the guidance and tools they need to develop into healthy, responsible young men and thrive.

"Our partnership with BAM represents another step in our commitment to young men of color," said Superintendent Chang. "BAM is deeply aligned with our strategy of providing multi-tiered systems of support. By meeting the individual needs of students and facilitating their personal and academic growth, we are helping close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps."

Through weekly group sessions called BAM Circles, and individual support during the school day, BAM counselors guide young men to learn, internalize, and practice social-emotional skills that align with the program's core values of integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, respect for womanhood, and visionary goal setting.

Shawn Brown, the founder of Diamond Educators Mentoring, has been named executive director of BAM in Boston.

Members of the BAM Advisory Council include:

  • Board chair Thaddeus Miles, director of community housing at MASSHousing
  • Kate Barrett, executive director of GreenLight Fund
  • Rahn Dorsey, chief of education for the City of Boston
  • Latoya Gayle of Phenomenal Moms
  • Conan Harris, director of My Brother's Keeper for the City of Boston
  • Hon. Leslie Harris, retired judge of the Massachusetts Trial Court
  • Makeeba McCreary, senior advisor and managing director of external affairs for BPS
  • William Morales, commissioner for Boston Center of Youth and Families
  • Barbara Sullivan, director of education for Strategic Grant Partners
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