Long Beach

Black and Latino boys struggle to succeed in school — local nonprofits are working to change that – Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California 2021-07-31 11:30:26 –

BOSS participants Marcus Fraser (left) and Andrew Pierce are working on a race car set competing as part of the STEM component of the final face-to-face camp in 2019. Photo: William Byers

Everett Glenn started the Business of Student Success Program BOSS six years ago with a single figure of 72.8%. This is the percentage of African-American male students who graduated from high school at a public school in Long Beach that year without meeting the requirements to enroll in one of the state’s public university systems.

Glenn, a trained legal counsel and the first black lawyer to work at a law firm in the city of Long Beach from 1996 to 2006, was shocked. “I’m not the one who finds such a thing and just goes back to normal,” he said.

Six years after its existence, the BOSS program has grown from two summer camps with about 20 boys to an education and career support program that serves 200 students. Earlier this month, US Congressman Alan Lowenthal of D-Long Beach announced that the House Expenditure Commission had approved $ 50,000 in federal funding for the program. The funds are then sent to Full House for the final vote.

If passed, Glenn estimated that this money could fund an additional 20 years of annual programming for students. “It would be huge,” he said.

In addition to working for a local city law firm, Glenn’s resume includes federal positions and support for the NFL and NBA draft topics in contract negotiations. The 68-year-old achievement shows little evidence of the challenges he faced as a young black man striving for a professional career.

Growing up in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s, Glenn said there was little encouragement from educators and the reality of his city center. “There were about three guys in the block who went to college and about 20 guys who went to jail,” he remembers. “I grew up with a failure stamped on my forehead.”

BOSS participant Shakar Reid raises his hand during the “Lunch & Learn” session at the 2019 BOSS camp. Photo by William Buyers.

The same is true for many students struggling to close the gap in educational outcomes here in Long Beach today, according to Glenn. “It’s not unique,” he said. “No one thought it was important to try to inspire them.”

He said Glenn was on the path to success by scoring high on a standardized 6th grade test and being sent to the summer program at Oberlin College, a prestigious liberal arts school just outside Cleveland. I did. Now he wants to do the same for most black and Latino boys that BOSS serves.

Prior to the pandemic, students of the program participated in internships with companies such as sports teams and the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the world’s largest owner of sporting events. Erikk Aldridge, director of the AEG Community Foundation, who heads the collaboration with BOSS, said he was impressed with the work of the nonprofit organization.

“The work they do, the passion they do, is top notch. You can see it in the young people they serve,” Aldridge said. “I see that someone is influencing the way we think about life.”

Aldridge, a former Inglewood-born baseball player at the University of California, San Diego, is pleased to see organizations like BOSS laying the groundwork to support the success of young black men, especially in his industry. Said.

“For companies like us and individuals like me who work in sports and entertainment, I see the impact of blacks on these industries,” he said. “It’s great to see black boys tackling the challenges they face.”

During the pandemic, BOSS, like everyone else, had to find new ways to interact with the students who provided the service. To that end, nonprofits have offered a series of virtual speakers featuring black professionals from a variety of industries, as well as weekly check-in by academic coaches for each individual student.

According to Glenn, pandemic restrictions not only created obstacles, but also opportunities. One of the advantages is that the virtual format allows speakers from all over the country to participate, some of which would not have been possible to travel to Long Beach. Also, one-on-one tutoring has become easier.

“We don’t have to travel to make it available. Our tutors can stay in their homes, so we were able to actually increase engagement.” Glenn said. “There is no substitute for meeting in person, but you can still use it.”

Ryan Ballard, a BOSS student with two sons, Dylan and Emile, said he was very impressed with the program. “I think it has had a huge impact on them,” he added, adding that as a parent, he also likes to listen to the speaker series for pointers and inspiration.

“They all share their experience in a practical way,” he said of the selected speakers. “Everything is true. We are talking about real life.”

In the area of ​​academic performance, the program is paying off. According to data from the Long Beach Unified School District, students in the program outperformed their classmates in several areas, including attendance and average grades.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 66% of BOSS participants averaged 3.0 or higher, compared to 42% of African-American and Hispanic boys in grades 6-8.

According to Glenn, the LBUSD data show the impact of this approach on these students. “These people will be husbands and fathers, employees or entrepreneurs,” he said. “If many opportunities are lost, the country will not be able to maintain global competitiveness and upward mobility.”

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