In 2012, Jason Terrell and Mario Jovan Shaw were young, black male educators, and members of Teach for America, teaching in Charlotte, North Carolina. The two saw a significant need for black male educators and chose to act on it.
Men of color make up 2 percent of educators nationally and are five times more likely to leave the teaching profession in search of a different career. Terrell and Shaw knew some changes need to come, so they launched the nonprofit organization Profound Gentlemen (PG). They shared with Blavity what their organization is doing to prioritize young black minds in the classroom.
PG is a nonprofit headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and aims to place and keep male educators of color in the education field.
One of the organization's focal points is combating the cradle to prison pipeline. According to an NAACP report, a criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. Black Americans are five times more likely to be imprisoned than whites.
Memphis' PG is a community safe space consisting of over 300 black men who are committed to facilitating the development of young black men through serving as mentors, advocates and role models. 'Impact Leaders,' as they're named, are tasked to guide each other on a professional development track to build their local community impact and levels of leadership.
"We believe in individualized and targeted support for our 'Gentlemen.' All of them have monthly one-on-one conversations with their Impact Leader to capture goals based on our '3C Focus Areas': Character Development, Content Support, and Community Leadership," an Impact Leader, Archie Moss Jr., told Blavity.
Throughout the school year, the members participate in workshops, retreats and various conferences to help them meet their professional goals.
"When it happens in Memphis, the impact is felt throughout our nation. Memphis is a community about progress. Organizations and communities are leaning in to do what is best for communities of color," Impact Leader Tim Green Jr. said.
Representation matters, and PG understands it's time more black males teach our black boys. Terrell and Shaw were both listed in the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 for social entrepreneurship.
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