IPS superintendent: Need to ‘connect the dots’ for young men

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By Jill Glavan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 22, 2014) -- The chief of Indianapolis Public Schools is one of 60 school leaders across the country to sign onto a national young men's initiative.

"It's a challenge," Dr. Lewis Ferebee said.

Ferebee said he knows there are students, particularly young men, within his district that need direction and help.

"If you look at our male performance, particular our minority male performance, we have tremendous opportunities for improvement," Ferebee said.

That's why Ferebee signed onto the national My Brother's Keeper initiative, announced by the President this week. The pledge focuses on early intervention, mentoring and improved services for young men of color.

Mentor Brandon Randall knows that work well. He's involved in multiple youth outreach programs, including one called the Bloom Project, that mentors young men ages 12 to 18.

"If we have a young man who's 15 and he wants to be a doctor, we're going to find a doctor and pair them up," Randall said.

Randall got into the work through a job in juvenile detention.

This week, when 15-year-old Ja'Vonne Ellis lost his life to gun violence, Randall recognized his story. Ellis was a student at Arsenal Tech and poised to begin a program in welding there.

"I think over the last seven years, I've known about 30, 35 kids who have died due to gun violence. Working with them one-on-one the way we did, they really became like family," Randall said.

He's hoping this sparks talk over what more can be done locally for every kid who will decide what path to follow. It's talk Ferebee is already engaged in.

"We need to connect those dots and bring those organizations together and create something larger and more impactful for those students," Ferebee said.

To help out in the community yourself or refer a young person for help, check out the Bloom Project Inc, Public Allies Indianapolis or 100 Black Men of Indianapolis.

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