“Maintaining their interest level comes by getting involved in their lives, this means engaging them in other activities such as trips to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, or to the Science Center on the North Side,” he said.
Many of the doctors actually mentor 3 or 4 students. The activities can be as simple as a movie, or a ball game, or just conversation. “This time is essential as there are many ‘social issues’ in their lives that must be overcome to insure the success of an individual student in such a comprehensive program,” he said.
The program whose lead funder is the Heinz Foundation, is also supported by Highmark and UPMC, and has three paid staff members. All the rest are physicians giving of their time talent and energy.
“But continued and increased funding will be what it takes to take the program to the next level” Simmons said. “By the time the inaugural group who entered the program in 6th grade get to 11 and 12th grade, because we add on about 20 boys per year, we will be up to 140 participants. It is keeping the stream of funding that will help us be able to optimize the program.”
Brentley said this program is so phenomenal that it is a mistake that the Pittsburgh School Board is not endorsing and fully supporting what GMS is doing with these boys.
“As a school District board member, I find it disappointment in the fact that I have been unable to convince neither Dr. (Linda) Lang nor my colleagues on the board to embrace and even partner with them in this program,” he said. “While I am happy, of course,
that my son and my nephew are involved, in the long run it is not about that, it is about the 100’s who want and need what this program has to offer.”