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It Starts With Them

Community based learning serves local youth

11/1/2016, 4:58 p.m.
Portland businessman Mims Rouse Jr., founder of the African-American XY Program LLC, is enrolling student participants in his education enhancement ...
Portland businessman Mims Rouse Jr. and longtime Portland educator Carolyn Leonard oversee a pilot educational program at First AME Zion Church to help African American males and men reach their full potential.

A pilot program geared to African-American boys and men to help them achieve better results in reading skills and study habits is a new community-based approach that backers hope will unlock barriers and help our young people reach their full potential.

Portland businessman Mims Rouse Jr., founder of the African-American XY Program LLC, is enrolling student participants in his education enhancement initiative “It Starts with Them” at First AME Zion Church on the corner of North Vancouver Avenue and Skidmore Street.

The program’s three main goals are awakening African American boys and men to their full potential, closing the wealth gap between blacks and their peers, and serving as a positive response to anecdotal evidence and statistical data revealing a cradle-to-grave incarceration pipeline for African-American males.

Currently open to 8th graders and beyond, including college level and adult learners, the ultimate goal is to serve our young people and adults with proven educational methods at churches serving the black community at home and around the county, as well as other organizations.

Mims says too many young black males and African American men are woefully unprepared educationally because they are left behind by an inadequate education system, social environment, and/or the political power structure.

He cites statistics that show in reading skills, only 10 percent of African American boys in the 8th grade have reached the benchmarks for educational proficiency. Compared to white males, black males are overrepresented by 600 percent in the prison system while making up only 6 percent of the general population.

The keys to success, Mims says, is having the right mixture of reading skills and study habits, , external support from family members and the community, and a healthy sense of self-worth.

To ensure the success of “It Starts With Them,” he sought counsel from highly regarded teachers, education administrators, pastors, activists, parents and others in the Portland community.

Combining positive adult mentoring with a proven education strategies are resources that can help keep a child from being swept into the prison pipeline at an early age, breaking a vicious cycle, Mims says. “We must resist the low lying fruit of building more prisons as a solution to this crisis.”

For a calendar of events and to learn more about “It Starts with Them,” visit the program’s website at AfricanAmerican-XY.com or send an email to Contact@AfricanAmerican-XY.