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We learn as boys, we live as men

Princes 2 Kings, a mentorship program that seeks to improve graduation rates and overall health outcomes for minority male youth, holds its summer program celebration

Photo by Richard Asinof

Two of the participants in the Princes 2 Kings summer mentoring program, Xavier and Randy, recite the P2K creed to open the summer program celebration

By Richard Asinof
Posted 8/14/17
Princes 2 Kings, a mentoring program for young men of color in Providence, celebrated the completion of its six-week summer session.
Is there a companion research study to track participants in the mentoring program from a public health perspective? Is there an opportunity for the Youth Restoration Project to become involved with the P2K program? What kinds of summer internship programs could become a follow-up to the mentoring program once the participants graduate from high school?
The joy and energy that radiated from the participants in P2K as they got to share their stories was irrepressible as the young men kept breaking into smiles, a celebration of these young men singing a positive song about themselves, in a place where they could be heard and appreciated.

PROVIDENCE – It was a huge positive story with a small media footprint, with no radio, TV or newspaper reporters on hand, save for ConvergenceRI. Smiles abounded.

More than 100 people crowded into the first floor auditorium on Friday, Aug. 11, at the R.I. Department of Health building to witness the Princes to Kings mentoring program summer program celebration, featuring some 55 participants who were enrolled in this year’s class.

To loud applause, the young men enrolled in P2K shared the highlights of their educational experiences this summer, including enrichment classes in science, math English and technology. Electives included broadcasting, photography, civil rights, money matters, college readiness, one gun gone, break dancing, and non-violence training.

The Princes 2 Kings program is funded through a five-year federal grant from the federal Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Angela Ankoma, co-director of the Health Equity Institute at the R.I. Department of Health, manages the program at the state level. Kobi Dennis serves as the P2K program director.

The partners include: the Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence, Providence Public Schools, Roger Williams University School of Continuing Education, and the Rhode Island Foundation.

The overall goal of the Princes 2 Kings mentorship initiative is to increase high school graduation rates and overall health outcomes of minority male youth through evidence-based and practice-based mentorship programs. In Rhode Island, as Ankoma reminded the overflow audience, “people with a high school diploma are expected to live seven years longer than those without a diploma.”

The target audience is young men of color between the ages of 12 and 18 living in Providence. The geographic “hot spots” are the West End and Southside of Providence.

The goals of the mentorship program include: improve the academic performance of program participants as demonstrated by increases in GPA, decrease rates of illicit drug use among program participants, decrease rates of community and school level violence, increase the likelihood that program participants will pursue post-secondary education upon graduation from high school, and increase rates of high school graduation among young men of color.

The six-week academic enrichment programs take place four days a week, Tuesday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The classroom structure is broken down by age group: those who are 12-14 years old, middle school students who are transitioning into 7th or 8th grade; those who are 14-15 years old, middle school students transitioning into high school; and those who are 15-17 years old, high school students who are transitioning into the 10th or 11th grade.

Participants in the P2K mentoring program are paid a small, weekly stipend.

Full of life and potential
In the July 2017 newsletter about the P2K program, the participants interviewed one of the five certified teachers in the mentoring program, Alicia Cook. When asked what she likes about P2K, she said: “I love my students. I get to teach them and learn from them. My students are incredible. They are full of life and potential.”

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