Programs Lifting Up Our Men


Every now and then we take time to highlight our brothers who are doing great things. With unemployment and incarceration rates high and college graduation rates low, we support any programs that keep our black men on the up and up.

Recently, we came across two stories related to encouraging and elevating black men and boys that really made me proud. First, Kailei attended an event last Friday in New York for The Marcus Graham Project, a network of professionals focused on mentoring and training male minorities ages 16-34 to enter roles in marketing, advertising, media and entertainment. Next, on of our Vyne Weekly readers sent us a great article about the graduating class of the all black, all male Chicago Urban Prep Academy. Here is some of the “good news.”

Chicago Urban Prep Academy

Located on the Southside of Chicago, Chicago Urban Prep Academy opened its doors in 2006 as the first all male charter school in the country. From its inception, the school’s CEO, Tim King was clear on the school’s primary goal: to get the students into college. And, with only 4% of the students reading at grade level as freshmen, this would not be an easy feat. He and his administration were dedicated, creating a strong foundation and apparent formula for success. The students were to be in school for eight hours per day, were given watches so that there would be no excuse for tardiness, had a uniform consisting of khakis, a blazer and tie, and were required to complete over double the average amount of high school English credits.

All of this hard work paid off. All 107 students in the senior class were accepted to college. Even better, they received a total of over $2 million in scholarships and grants. Watch a video about Chicago Urban Prep Academy from ABC here.

Marcus Graham Project
Remember Eddie Murphy’s character in the movie Boomerang?  Marcus Graham was a suave, advertising executive for Chantress advertising agency. During the course of the movie, many of us not only admired Marcus’ swag and lifestyle, but we also wanted the glamour and excitement that came with working in a big-time advertising agency. But where are the Marcus Grahams of the world now? According to the Madison Avenue Project (a collaboration between the NAACP and Washington, D.C.-based law firm Mehri & Skalet), African Americans are largely underrepresented in the advertising industry. In fact, the percentage of large advertising agencies without any black managers or professionals is 60% higher than the general labor market. Lincoln Stephens, a 29 year-old former advertising executive, witnessed this first hand and wanted to do something about it. His experience prompted him to launch The Marcus Graham Project.

According to their website:

The Marcus Graham Project is a national network of diverse professionals that have purposed themselves in developing the next generation of thought leadership within the advertising, media and marketing industry.
Our mission is to identify, expose, mentor and train ethnically diverse men between the ages of 16 and 34 in all aspects of the media industry, including advertising, entertainment and marketing.
The vision of the Marcus Graham Project (MGP) is to provide long-term access to information, technology, financial and people resources that will strategically develop a viable pool of talent and leadership within the industry.

Among the MGP programs is iCR8, a summer bootcamp that was piloted in 2009. Held in Dallas, TX,  the summer-long program gives participants exposure to and hands on experience in multiple marketing, media and advertising disciplines. The 2010 program will launch in June and includes a challenge of creating a campaign for raising awareness about global issues (details found here).

The MGP has the opportunity to make a significant, much needed difference in the media and advertising industry. We look forward to more to come from them. And rumor has it they are also launching an organization for the ladies as well!


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