Madison, WI (March 2, 2016) – Today, the 100 Black Men of Madison announced its new initiative, Project SOAR, which stands for Student Opportunities, Access and Readiness. Project SOAR is a comprehensive program to lower truancy rates and raise high school graduation rates. The program involves one-on-one mentoring, career exploration and cultivating discussion on a number of social issues.
Project SOAR targets African-American male students between the ages of 12 and 17, who attend a middle school or high school in the Madison Metropolitan School District. The students will gain a positive self-perception, identify SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) career goals, develop skills to influence others and build a support network. Through this intensive work, Project SOAR’s overall goals include lowering truancy rates by 7% and raising graduation rates by 5% each year over a three-year period for African American male students and providing at least 2,000 community service hours by all participants to local programs and initiatives.
“For African American youth in Madison, truancy is a symptom of a much larger problem: poverty,” said Dr. Floyd Rose, President of The 100 Black Men of Madison. “The vast majority of African American male students in Madison have experienced poverty and its resulting symptoms such as unstable housing, inadequate health care and escalating community violence. All of these factors and more contribute to chronic absenteeism. We are committed to being positive role models in these students’ lives and ensure they are on a path to stay in school and graduate.”
Forty students will receive 40 hours of one-on-one mentoring from a 100 Black Men mentor. 300 students will be a part of Project SOAR’s Career Academy and Success Academy. The Career Academy includes opportunities for students to learn more about different careers. The Success Academy will provide knowledge on a wide range of topics that are essential for the development of a young African American male student. Topics will include discussions on family, relationships, religion, school, financial literacy, gangs, athletics and the justice system.
“As a community, we need to lift up our students, see their strengths and wrap our support around them, especially for our students of color,” MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said. “The mentoring and support that Project SOAR will provide our African American students will do that, and we are excited to work with The 100 Black Men of Madison to make the program successful.”
“This represents a real opportunity for authentic relationship-building between officers and students,” said Madison Police Chief Michael Koval. “So often, our contacts are predicated upon response to crisis or dysfunction taking place at home or in the neighborhoods; this is a chance for trust to take root as cops and kids can relate to one another in a positive and non-threatening way. If only there were more programs that offered this sort of timely intervention!”
“These partnerships are crucial as we work together to reduce the level of poverty in our City,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “There is no more sure pathway out of poverty than education, and I am grateful to United Way, 100 Black Men and the other community partners involved in this challenging and important project.”
“United Way is proud to support Project SOAR and the relationships it will cultivate between these students and their mentors,” said Renee Moe, President and CEO of United Way of Dane County. “We believe Dr. Rose and The 100 Black Men of Madison have devised effective ways to connect with students to tackle chronic absenteeism and we are honored to be a partner in this program.”
If you would like to be a mentor, Career Academy or Success Academy Instructor, please contact The 100 Black Men of Madison at 100BlackMenMadison.com.
Project SOAR Collaborators:
Madison Metropolitan School District
City of Madison (Mayor’s Office) My Brother’s Keeper
The One Hundred Men of America
United Way of Dane County
Madison Police Department
Dane County Executive’s Office
Madison Fire Department
African American Fraternities and Sororities
CUNA Mutual Group