“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” These are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the affirmation for 100 Atlanta Public Schools ninth graders who were inducted into the Brotherhood for College Success.
A new APS initiative, the Brotherhood for College Success aims to provide early support to males of color that will lead to higher college enrollment and retention. The first cohort consists of ninth graders from 11 APS high schools: B.E.S.T. Academy, Carver Early College, Carver STEAM, Douglass, Grady, Jackson, Mays, North Atlanta, South Atlanta, Therrell, and Washington.
Students with a minimum GPA of 2.5 were recommended by their principals and school counselors. APS staff (counselors and graduation coaches) will support and mentor the young men until they are placed on a college campus that is a good match and fit.
“We’re tracking their grades, we’re tracking their involvement with extracurricular activities and their overall wellbeing,” said Dr. Corey Sheffield, APS college success project manager. “Our graduation coaches and counselors will do monthly interventions with the students. Every month there is a different topic of focus that they will present and work with the students on.”
Sheffield says that while most college counseling programs begin to work heavily with students during their junior year in high school, what makes the Brotherhood for College Success unique is its approach to lay the groundwork during students’ freshman year of high school. Students will be mentored individually and as a group. One of their very first assignments will be to develop an individual success plan.
“To kick off our program, we’re taking all of the young men to the Men of Color National Summit that will take place on the campus of Clemson University,” Sheffield said. “All of the conversations will have a focus on brotherhood, identity and college excellence.”
The Feb. 16 induction ceremony at D.M. Therrell High School included remarks from APS Associate Superintendent of High Schools Dr. Dan Sims, who spoke to the personal impact of brotherhood to his own success. Sims defined brotherhood as Built and Ready to Offer Time, Help and Encouragement Regularly in Hopes of Opening Opportunities Daily.
“Brotherhood over the course of my entire life has led to my success and sustains me today,” Sims said. “It’s my hope to show some parts of my life to help young brothers think about their lives right now, how they can build bonds with each other, how they can be brothers to their brothers, and how they can receive that brotherhood as well. I think it’s one of those indispensable pieces to a man’s success and hopefully this will lay a foundation for them to think more seriously about not just their own success but the success of everybody around them so that everybody can be successful.”
Students concluded the program by reciting the Brotherhood for College Success creed:
We are the young men of the Brotherhood for College Success.
We are college bound.
We are exceptional- not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
We are dedicated, committed and focused.
We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
We never fail because we never give up.
We make no excuses.
We are more than students; we are scholars.
We are more than our today; we are our tomorrow.
We are more than a gift; we are hope for another.
We are Kings.
We are Kings.
We are Kings.
We are the Brotherhood for College Success.
We are our Brother’s Keeper.