According to the 2012 United States Census, individuals who graduate from high school earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those who do not. Average annual income raises almost $10,000 more with an associate’s degree and jumps even higher with a bachelor’s degree. Yet, in the United States as of 2011, only 32% of people age 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the US Department of Education. Today’s organization has focused in on one population in an attempt to increase their education rates.
The mission of Life Pieces To Masterpieces is to provide opportunities for African American boys and young men in Greater Washington, DC by developing character, unlocking their potential, and empowering them to transform their lives and communities. Their goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage and elevate African-American boys and young men so they can grow into mature men who demonstrate social responsibility and create positive change in their communities. Their do this by focusing on arts and education while supporting young men and boys in disadvantaged communities in Washington, D.C.
Over 90% of the young males age 3 to 25 in the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program live in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C. They call their program participants Apprentices. These participants come from communities with a variety of challenges including social, physical, and mental health problems and gang activity. Over 70% of the households in these wards are headed by single females which causes a lack of positive male role models for many of the Apprentices. These conditions cause the boys and young men in the community to stray from academic development and other positive development opportunities.
So, what is Life Pieces To Masterpieces doing to make a difference for these boys and young men? They utilize their “4 Cs” as part of their curriculum:
- Students connect to themselves and to their classmates.
- They create — homework, artwork, and poems.
- They contribute — sharing their work and their thinking with a greater community.
- And they celebrate their successes.
I think this is best brought to life through the stories of their program participants.
Lorenzo was 13 years old and had a lot of responsibilities when he was first introduced to the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program. His parents had split up and his mother was battling addiction. Lorenzo was left to help his eight brothers and sisters by ensuring they were fed and did their schoolwork. He found Life Pieces to Masterpieces as his home away from home. He is now 20 and is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism while serving as a mentor and teacher at Life Pieces to Masterpieces. He credits the program for “aggressively pursuing education” and for the importance it places on getting the best grades possible.
You can find additional stories of the difference that the program has made on their website.
Their program results are impressive. They have served over 1500 young men and boys over the last 17 years with 100% of their young men graduating from high school and gone on to pursue a post-secondary education. Many of their alumni return to serve as mentors and teachers in the after school program. In addition, 100% the participant’s parents show satisfaction with the program and state that their young men and boys are more confident, make better decisions, and speak in a positive manner about their future.
How can you help?
- If you live near Washington D.C., you can help serve as an after-school program mentor. Individuals serve as a positive role model and support the lead classroom teacher. They are also working on a corporate art leasing program to share their Apprentices art with local corporations and provide additional revenue for their program. Other volunteer opportunities include social media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment. You can learn more and contact them about these and other volunteer opportunities on their website.
- You can show your support by shopping their store of logo merchandise or by making a donation on their website.
- In kind donations are also appreciated. Their current wish list includes art easels, healthy food for their summer program, a 14 seat a minivan, and boxes of white printing paper for their office.