Donation to MBK Could Spark Future Collaborations


Jules-Roland Gouton

Potentially, the partnership could provide a vehicle by which students could voice the various issues that occur daily in their neighborhoods.

Student leaders are forging a partnership with a national organization devoted to bettering the lives of young men of color.

Francis Jean-Paul SY, a student-leader at the Hive, welcomed Mr. Deonte Savage to Convocation on Wednesday, and handed him a donation, signaling the start of a partnership between SBP and MBK. Mr. Savage is a program associate for the Newark Branch of My Brother’s Keeper, a nonprofit organization launched by President Obama in 2014 that provides opportunities for young men of color.

The donation, totaling $130, was drawn from funds raised during the Black History Showcase Jean-Paul organized at SBP last month.

The idea, Jean-Paul said, is to gain a relationship with like-minded people outside of school whose intentions are to help the young men of the inner city. Potentially, the partnership could provide a vehicle by which students could voice the various issues that occur daily in their neighborhoods.

Jean-Paul did not know from the start that he would donate to MBK. Unsure of where to send a donation, he sought the help of Mr. Jared Boone ‘13, the Middle Division Humanities teacher at St. Benedict’s Preparatory school, who acquainted him with MBK. Mr. Boone in February attended MBK Rising in Oakland, California, a national convention that brought together leaders and organizations from across the nation whose goal is to help young men of color achieve their dreams. Speakers at the convention included Mr. Obama, Stephen Curry, John Legend, Michael B. Jordan, and more.

“Statistically, young men of color in this country face institutional barriers that prevent them from obtaining the same level of success to their peers,” explained Boone. “I found that the Newark chapter of MBK was the best choice to help young black individuals become better versions of themselves through the variety of opportunities MBK offers.”

The Newark chapter of MBK has advocated for social justice, provided young men of color in Newark with mentors, and arranged youth summits that teach young men of color how to write resumes and participate in interviews.

“MBK was built (out of) love for rooms that look just like this,” said Mr. Savage during his short Convo speech, surrounded by 500 students, many of whom identify as students of color. “There are so many cards stacked against boys of color, and we want to do what we can to help.

Savage knew about St. Benedict’s before his brief visit on Wednesday. He went to Arts High School, which is down the street and a crosswalk away from SBP.

“I feel very at home here,” he said. “Even though I didn’t attend St. Benedict’s I could just feel the brotherhood.”

Later that day leaders of the MBK branch of Newark had a discussion in the boardroom with some students from the Middle and Prep divisions. The meeting focused on what it’s like for young men to live in a populated area such as Newark. Students responded by explaining that a person has to be constantly aware of his surroundings and know how to comport himself safely. The leaders of the MBK chapter used the dialogue, they said, as a way of opening minds so that the young men will learn to question matters, and look for answers.

“I hope (an) MBK/SBP collaboration can create a way for our students to network with other students from different schools and adults with experience in different fields,” Jean-Paul said. “And lead to new opportunities being created for the inner city children that weren’t there before.”