Spotlight on Community Partner
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence – Miami, FL
When President Obama announced the formation of My Brother’s Keeper, he highlighted Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and the program that she founded, the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project.
On that day Congresswoman Wilson said: “Thank God for President Obama! With the stroke of his pen, he changed the national conversation around men and boys of color who all too often are treated as their own class of citizens. They are rarely given the benefit of the doubt. They are labeled ‘delinquent,’ not ‘rowdy.’ They are ‘hardened criminals,’ not ‘misguided youth.’ Their very existence is often seen as a threat. We see this treatment reflected in areas such as education, criminal justice, health care, and employment.”
Wilson, who was a founding member of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Advisory Board, also stated that “because of My Brother’s Keeper we have an agenda and a responsibility passed on to us by the 44th President of the United States to address those issues and we take that charge seriously.”
The 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project, founded in 1993, is a mentoring program which boasts more than 8,000 boys of color in grades 3-12 in the Miami-Dade County Public School System. After eight years of mentoring, these young men are prepared for the real world of work and responsibilities.
The comprehensive dropout prevention program has a record of success with data to demonstrate the positive impact that it has made on boys and young men for decades. According to an independent evaluation of the program by QQ Research Consultants, 96 percent of students were promoted to the next grade level or graduated, and 95 percent decreased or maintained number of suspensions.
The program believes in prevention and investing extensive time and resources in steering boys on a carefully chartered course to manhood and propelling them to the next level of life which includes but is not limited to college. One of their goals is to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
Congresswoman Wilson notes, “The 5,000 Role Models have earned the title of media darlings and grace the evening news on a weekly basis. The community adores them and lets them know it. When they adorn the red tie worn by all men and boys in the program, miracles are witnessed every single day. Discipline improves, attitudes change, academics soar, and hope and a vision of themselves in the future reigns supreme!”
Congresswoman Wilson reflected on one of the program’s success stories, saying, “One of thousands of examples is Tommy Collins. Tommy’s father died when he was two years old and he hails from the Overtown section of Miami, Florida, one of the poorest zip codes in the country. There are those who would have projected him to be headed for the Florida State Penitentiary, but because of the intervention of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project and other supports, he is currently a sophomore with a 4.0 grade point average at Florida State University. There are thousands of stories like Tommy’s that have resulted from the institutionalization of the 5,000 Role Models in school districts.”
There are now millions of men and boys across the nation who have taken the oath and have worn the 5,000 Role Models tie for the past 28 years. Models all over the world inspiring boys and young men and passing on the tenants of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence. Their network includes Florida school districts in Miami-Dade, Broward, Duval, and Pinellas Counties and the Detroit Public Schools. Congresswoman Wilson notes that the program is currently in discussions to explore expansion to school districts in California, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, Illinois, New York, and across the continent of Africa.
You can follow and support the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project at www.5000rolemodels.com and @5,000RoleModels.