While they may not express it outright or even be cognizant of it, young black boys are constantly looking for acceptance, guidance, and discipline. Those without consistent, positive role models in their lives can be at risk of stigma and marginalization later in life. They may miss opportunities for success or, worse, become grim statistics. Steve Coleman, director of MODELS Academy at Piedmont Technical College (PTC), is changing all that — one child at a time.
MODELS Academy is a holistic mentoring and personal development program that addresses the social, academic, career, and cultural development of African American males in grades four through 12. This fall, two new grants are helping ensure the program continues to change lives.
One recent grant, in the amount of $8,000, was awarded to MODELS Academy by The Duke Energy Foundation. The second grant, for $3,000, came from Greenwood Women Care. The funds will be used for leadership, community service, career exploration, and academic monitoring activities with participants.
“One reason MODELS Academy is so successful is its rigor and scope. Our participants are challenged to perform academically, think critically, communicate effectively, use technology, and recognize career paths that, with hard work and commitment, are available to them,” Coleman said. “We make it clear that this is a serious, demanding program. We require the involvement of a parent or guardian because we recognize how critical reinforcement and support are to the attainment of their goals.”
Participants are required to read articles and books, to dress appropriately, to engage in community service projects, to act respectfully, to speak in public, and much more. MODELS currently mentors more than 850 young men from more than 40 schools in PTC’s seven-county service area. Every year in the spring, the initiative holds a MODELS Academy Gala Dinner to celebrate the young men’s achievements.
For more information, please visit www.ptc.edu/models. If you would like to donate to the program, you can send a check payable to Piedmont Technical College Foundation, write MODELS in the subject line, and mail to Foundation VP Fran Wiley at 620 North Emerald Road, PO Box 1467, Greenwood, SC 29648. Or you can donate online at www.ptc.edu/about/foundation/ways-give.