Message from Dr. Vincent
I had the honor of attending the White House launch of President Obama's new initiative, My Brother's Keeper along with many notable educators and public figures including General Colin Powell, former mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rev. Al Sharpton and commentator Bill O'Reilly, to name a few. President Obama called on all of us—regardless of party affiliation—to help level the playing field for young African American and Hispanic males.
The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has been invested in male academic success since its inception. We have supported, invested and participated in numerous initiatives the past seven years including the African American Men and Boys Harvest Foundation which was one of the DDCE's first community incubator programs. The foundation has since changed its name, opened a large and successful resource center for African American youth in Austin and continues to hold regular workshops for young men in Austin high schools. Since then, The African American Male Research Initiative has been launched in our Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, establishing a cascade mentoring program affiliated with Sigma Pi Phi and serving as a model around the country. Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success), started several years ago by DDCE faculty fellow Dr. Victor Sáenz, has expanded into a consortium that includes universities, community colleges and school districts across Texas. All of these programs are helping to create the pathways for male student success that President Obama is supporting.
We hope you will join us and many others nationwide in the long-term, focused effort to give young Hispanic and African American men the chance to reach their full potential; help us start a different cycle for these young men, one of success.
Dr. Vincent Visits White House for Launch of My Brother's Keeper Initiative
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, joined President Barack Obama and public sector leaders including General Colin Powell, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Honorable Michael Bloomburg and numerous philanthropic leaders for the roll-out of the My Brother's Keeper Initiative on February 27.
The initiative focuses on using proven tools and expanding opportunities for young African American and Hispanic men. The White House hopes to build on work currently being done in communities to address the disparities in education, criminal justice and employment that these young men face by partnering with businesses, nonprofits and foundations. In announcing the initiative, President Obama noted that providing tools to young men for their success was part of the responsibility of the private sector, government, philanthropy and faith-based communities, but he challenged them to assume responsibility themselves by making good choices. Watch CNN video.
The DDCE has two major initiatives that address challenges faced by young men of color–the African American Male Research Initiative (AAMRI) and Project MALES. Dr. Vincent has been key to establishing mentoring programs nationwide through the work of national fraternity Sigma Pi Phi and has played a leadership role in Communities in Schools' X-Y Zone.
(Pictured left: Dr. Vincent and Spenser Overton, professor at George Washington University School of Law and former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice, attend President Obama's announcement of the new male initiative.)
Feria Para Aprender
Once again this year, DDCE and other departments at The University of Texas at Austin participated in Feria Para Aprender, the largest bilingual learning fair in the state. UT Elementary School, our Colony Park project, Project MALES and UT Outreach all had booths at the Feb. 22 event. About 10,000 parents and children attend the event annually which provides activities and books for kids plus educational and health resources for parents.
Project 2014: 'Horns Continue to Keep Austin Beautiful in the Holly St. Neighborhood
Since 1999, an estimated 25,000 University of Texas at Austin students have participated in The Project—one of the largest days of university community service in the country. Each year, an intrepid group of about 35 students plans and organizes the day-long event that focuses on an underserved Austin neighborhood.
The 15th annual Project was no different. A total of 1,859 volunteers worked a combined 9,371 hours on Saturday, Feb. 22, to weed, dig, plant, paint and carry out other odd jobs at 36 sites in the Holly St. neighborhood in East Austin. Projects were completed at five schools, three parks, five churches, five community centers, two nonprofit organizations and 19 homes.
Once again this year, Longhorn Steakhouse provided lunch for all volunteers, thanks to the efforts of Director of Operations Gus Barbosa and his staff. And no Project would be complete without the Home Depot team, who assists with training and supplies and volunteer themselves on the day of the Project. Home Depot Store #6542 on Woodward has been the “home” store for The Project since 2012. Managers from that store help students complete the paperwork to receive funding from the Home Depot Foundation and provide training. Supplies come from both the Woodward Home Depot and the store on Barbara Jordan. On Feb. 22, though, the day of the Project, Home Depot employees from ten area stores volunteered. A big thank you to Longhorn Steakhouse and Home Depot for their continued support of The Project!
“Our students amaze me every year with their dedication and passion for community service,” said DDCE Program Coordinator Amory Baril. “They are advocates for our community partners and extraordinary event planners, while still being full time students. This year's group has definitely raised the bar for the next 15 years of The Project, and I'm so proud to work with them.”
One of the most important events of the year at The University of Texas at Austin is Explore UT – a day-long celebration during which we open the doors of our campus to the state. Thanks to all of our volunteers, especially the Gateway Scholars, for making sure everyone had a great time!
Amplify Austin is a community-wide day of online philanthropy with the goal of raising $4 million in 24-hours for nonprofits in Central Texas. Beginning at 6pm on March 20, for 24 hrs., Central Texans will be encouraged to hop on ilivehereigivehere.org and donate to their charity of choice from a list of local nonprofits which includes the DDCE's UT Elementary School, Neighborhood Longhorns Program and Silver Spurs Alumni Association!
Editor: Leslie Blair. Web: Jason Molin