How Can High Schools Be Improved For Young Black Men?
A group of students and educators developed six plans for Milwaukee schools.
How would you improve outcomes for Black male high schoolers in Milwaukee?
Most of the proposals focused on using school or recreational settings to improve the mental health of Black males. Clintel Hasan, strategic initiatives manager at Milwaukee Succeeds, a partnership of educational leaders across government, nonprofit and private sectors that launched the program in December, said this did not surprise her.
“Generally the ratio of mental health professionals to students in our schools is not appropriate,” Hasan said. “So social workers end up working on crisis cases only but not everyday issues.”
The goal is to implement the proposals by January.
“I sometimes feel intimidated around a lot of grown people,” Funches said. “But our world is falling apart. This was the first step for me making a change.”
In the coming days you can find full project proposals and fellowship updates here.
The fellows were organized into six groups, and winners will receive two different payments: a $10,000 grant to spend on making the idea a reality, as well as a $2,500 stipend for each individual youth who worked on the proposal.
Cohort 1: Jabali (Strong as a Rock)
Jabali, meaning “strong as a rock” in Swahili, focused its proposal on the importance of mentorship programs. The group’s goal is to establish after-school mentorship programs that include a mental health curriculum, life skills curriculum and more Black and brown mentors who students can build positive relationships with.
Cohort 2: Voices of MKE
Voices of MKE proposed safe spaces for Black males at schools with Black facilitators to work through issues related to mental health. This would involve creating and implementing a mental health curriculum centering on Black males.
Voices of MKE identified the MPS Board of School Directors, MPS offices, including the Office of Black and Latino Male Achievement, Milwaukee Succeeds, ArtWorks for Milwaukee and the America’s Black Holocaust Museum.
Cohort 3: Next Generation of Hope
Next Generation of Hope proposed a student-led administration that would have the power to evaluate teachers and initiate ideas on behalf of the student body. The fellows said this would differ from student government because this body would have more power to unilaterally act without oversight from adults, pointing to the ability to evaluate teachers as an example of this. Members of this body would be over 80% Black, elected by the student body and would receive stipends.
Next Generation of Hope identified MPS’ Office of Black and Latino Male Achievement, Diverse & Resilient, the Jrue & Lauren Holiday Social Impact Fund, Ubuntu Research and Evaluation and Milwaukee Succeeds as stakeholder organizations.
Cohort 4: Stellar Scholars
Stellar Scholars proposed creating a culturally conscious mental health curriculum, assessment opportunities and programming targeting Black male youth. The fellows identified SKY Schools, PEAK Initiative and Peace Learning Center of Milwaukee as potential partners for developing such a curriculum.
Cohort 5: La Familia del Futuro (The Family of the Future)
La Familia del Futuro, meaning “the family of the future” in Spanish, proposed creating peer-to-peer support group networks that advocate for the mental health and emotional wellness of Black boys. The goal of this network would be to “create a sustainable support group model that can be duplicated at other high schools.”
La Familia del Futuro identified Milwaukee Succeeds, United Way’s Community Schools network, MPS school board, MPS entities such as Project AWARE and the Office of Black and Latino Male Achievement, Diverse & Resilient, PATCH, Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin and Heal the Hood.
Cohort 6: Goal Diggers
Goal Diggers proposed establishing recreation centers where mental, physical and spiritual health of Black males are seen as intertwined, not separate issues. The fellows identified Peace of Mind, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Marquette High School, Pulaski High School and North Division High School as potential partners, among others.
Here’s how young people feel we can improve the lives of Black male students was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.