Black Achievers Program: Helping Students Hop the Gap to Success

Last updated: January 25, 2017, at 2:39 p.m. PT

Originally published: December 15, 2016, at 3:58 p.m. PT

As champions for youth development, we believe in the potential of all kids and are committed to helping them discover their best selves. A Meredith Mathews East Madison Y fun fact: we’re the largest provider of youth education and development programs among all YMCA of Greater Seattle branches. By partnering with over 22 area schools, more students have access to out-of-school time support like tutoring, mentoring, arts, and family engagement.

One of our signature programs, Black Achievers, offers high school students training, networking, and service opportunities to help them explore career options and prepare for college. Connecting youth with mentors and community leaders develops healthy relationships with adults through interaction with positive role models.

Over the past 20 years, the Black Achievers Program has engaged more than 4,000 local youth and over 400 volunteer mentors. Beginning in 2009, a scholarship component was added, totaling more than $30,000 in financial assistance to date.

But it isn’t just about the numbers. Students like Jordan have been able to discover new interests that help them make decisions about their career and education goals. “We got a taste of everything – engineering, medicine, theater, you name it.  It really helped me to sort out my interests and gain skills like public speaking,” says Jordan.  “And the mentors are incredible.”

Teens also engage in meaningful service opportunities with neighborhood organizations that empower them to be a positive force in their community. Students of all academic abilities and backgrounds develop leadership, decision-making skills, and confidence with public speaking through career shadowing and service learning.

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