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Program invites business pros to encourage young men

Program invites business pros to encourage young men
February 08
05:00 2018

Earlier this week, AAMPED (African American Males Pursing Educational Dreams), a program offered by the local Crosby Scholars Community Partnership, invited young men from schools across the district to sit down with local business professionals’ to discuss their futures, and the importance of setting goals during the first Tipping Point Series, a two-part event designed to prepare students and parents for the future.

Following a trial run in 2016, this school year AAMPED hit the ground running, looking to make a difference in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District. Richard Watts, retired principal and AAMPED coordinator said that after seeing the number of African-American males enrolled in Crosby Scholars as high school seniors decline, they adopted AAMPED to increase those numbers and encourage young men to continue their education after high school.

Watts, who retired from Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy following the 2016-2017 school year, said helping African-American males reach their full potential is work he has been doing for years and AAMPED is a continuation of that work.

“What we’re trying to do is encourage our young men anyway we can to stay in Crosby because there are a lot of benefits and we want African-American men to take advantage of these opportunities,” he said. “This is what I’ve been doing for 32 years, so when this position became available, I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to continue to do what I can to make African-American males successful.”

Since 1992 the Forsyth County branch of Crosby Scholars has graduated over 7,000 students and awarded more than $4.5 million in grant scholarships. This year more than 1,100 students are enrolled in the program.

To jumpstart the series on Monday, Feb. 5, Watts introduced himself and his journey to becoming a lifelong educator. Next, students and parents were split into separate groups. While the young men sat down with local educators, entrepreneurs, and other business professionals to discuss their futures, parents received advice from Watts and others on how to prepare their students for high school and college.

“Our goal with the series is bring young men together and connect them with business professions right here in our community that look just like them,” Watts continued. “We want our young men to be able to see successful black men and say I can move forward and be successful just like them.”

While chatting with a group of young men during the event, Maurice Jackson, assistant principal at Reagan High School, encouraged listening ears to make a plan and stick to it. Jackson, who earned a football scholarship to play at Winston-Salem State University, said although he failed to reach his initial goal of playing in the NFL, because a college degree was in his plans, he was able to land a job as a coach after college, which eventually led to him going back to school to become a teacher, and then an assistant principal.

“Whatever it is that you want to do, you have to have a plan,” Jackson said.

To wrap up the series students, parents, and volunteers sat down to enjoy a catered dinner, free of charge. While attendees ate and mingled Mona Lovett, Crosby Scholars president and CEO thanked everyone for their participation. According to Lovett, part two of the series will be held later this year.

AAMPED is also looking for advisers to volunteer with the program and help young men work towards reaching their goals and continuing their education.

For more information contact Richard Watts at rwatts@nullcrosbyscholars.org or by phone at (336) 725-5371. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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