Reaching youth early and providing them with hands on activities and experiences to gain the skills and tools necessary to guide them on their path to success is what the Building Our Leaders Daily program at Point Park University is about. Now, not only is the program helping students to obtain a brighter future, but it’s also giving the community the “sight of success.”
Recently, BOLD has added some inspirational faces to the North Side streets. Through its “Today’s Mentors for Tomorrow’s Workforce” campaign, with the assistance of a grant and Lamar Advertising, the career exploring initiative has placed six posters displaying the faces of program mentors in an effort to show Black youth who are not only in their program but also in the community, that people who look like them can be successful.
“In the African-American community, one of the things that is clear is that there isn’t a night that goes by that you don’t see somebody getting shot; there isn’t a night that goes by that many of these kids don’t see people who are doing a positive thing. So they’re (kids) seeing one side of the picture and it’s not the full picture,” said Herman Reid, EdD, director of Academic and Economic Development for Academic and Student Affairs. “So in order to give them a better view of the picture, I’ve created these mentors at the bus stops in the North Side so that what they’re seeing is positive role models. If we put the right images in front of our kids we can encourage them.”
For three years urban middle school-age students in grades 7th and 8th from Manchester Academic Charter Schools have been actively engaged in this initiative which was created through the University’s School of Business’ Urban Accounting Initiative and explores the accounting and finance career field through a five-step process that includes how money is used, career awareness and preparation, getting a job, keeping and advancing on the job, and exploring entrepreneurship. All of which are skill sets that can be used in any career field.
“I don’t care if they go into accounting and financing as much as I do about them knowing how to pick a career. That way, when they get to college they won’t be lost and waste money,” said Reid, who is a former executive director of NEED and school principal. “We’re teaching them the skills that employers expect out of students. The earlier you acquire these skills, the more likely you are to be successful.”
During a video testimonial, an unidentified BOLD participant said, “It (BOLD) helps me to see what I can accomplish now and how it will me affect me later.”
Another MAC student said, “It lets me get resources. Now I know more people in more fields. Also if I want to go to this (field), now I know what I have to do, what grade point average I need.”
Along with learning the skills, several students have even put them to work, by starting businesses of their own.
He added that the posters are also a way to reach those may not have the opportunity to participate in BOLD, and programs like it. “It’s a way to broaden our message even though we’re not able to do BOLD for everyone. But by them seeing the posters they know that there’s an opportunity to reach certain goals and aspirations.”
Although the posters are only in North Side neighborhoods, Reid said he hopes to find sponsorship to place them in urban communities throughout the city of Pittsburgh.
While BOLD currently works with mentors in the accounting and finance field, Reid said he is in the process of incorporating mentors from other career fields, such as communications, technology and performing arts, into his program
He is also in the process of creating a continuum, a program that will continue to work with BOLD graduates through high school in an effort to guarantee graduation.
“It’s important for these young men (and women) to see that not all African-American males are on the news with bad stories and that there are individuals who are working hard, committed, educated and concerned about their well being,” Slaughter said.
(For more information on BOLD, call 412-392-8175 or visit http://www.pointpark.edu.)
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