We Believe

The Urban Prep Creed


We believe.
We are the young men of Urban Prep.
We are college bound.
We are exceptional — not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.
We are dedicated, committed and focused.
We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
We never fail because we never give up.
We make no excuses.
We choose to live honestly, nonviolently and honorably.
We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.
We have a future for which we are accountable.
We have a responsibility to our families, community and world.
We are our brothers’ keepers.
We believe in ourselves.
We believe in each other.
We believe in Urban Prep.

urban prep

See the story here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/5zvnxf

Read the story here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/6odv99

An excerpt:

“CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) — The odds were never good for 16-year-old D’Angelo Gardner. His father died of a heroin overdose when he was 9 years old, and by the eighth grade, he was caught up in a gang.

“I had a real bad attitude towards … everybody. I didn’t wanna talk, I didn’t wanna do work,” D’Angelo recalls. “It was just hard, and I didn’t wanna be there.”

Growing up in Englewood, one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, the statistics for young black men are grim. Only one in 40 African-American males in Chicago will finish college, and 50 percent will drop out of high school. If that weren’t bad enough, guns and gang violence are almost a part of daily life. This year, nearly 30 Chicago Public School students have been shot to death.

But in the center of this impoverished neighborhood, there is hope.

The Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, founded in 2002, has become a haven. The charter school, which is not part of the Chicago Public Schools system, has a mission to prepare young black men for college and promote self-esteem and success.”

I think this story offers real hope; not just for them, but for all of us.

And I think their experiences could be used to help others with similar issues in their educational systems, plot a positive way through.

Peace and Much Love.

(Thanks to Ian and Paula for sharing this story with me.)

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5 Responses to “We Believe”

  1. June 27, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Two things are happening in the American education system –

    1. Public schools in urban neighborhoods are becoming more like prisons (complete with police officers, pat downs, and a management style that triage students right into the penal system – especially boys, open labeling of students that makes them feel worthless and drive their rebellion against being regarded as such).

    2. The commercializing of public education through Charter schools (such as the one being praised here).

    Charter schools in the U.S. are a demonstration that the American public education system is broken and that the only way to fix it is through privatization. Charter schools give better results, but the fact is every family in America will not be able to afford to pay for this level of education for their children if it replaces the free public school system. The vouchers that parents get today (in order for their children to take up these ‘scholarships’) are only to test the system of Charter schools – but the vouchers will not keep coming after the public jr and high school system is done away with for private education. Tax payers pay enough to provide a first class system for the education of America’s children but the government has diverted those funds to the Iraq war and other interests. With the growing prison industrial complex turning a profit and the availability of cheap educated foreign labour, I suppose they have no reason to care about what happens to the 99% of black boys that are caught up in the underfunded public school system.

    As someone who grew up in the Caribbean I am not impressed by stories of black boys excelling-where I am from it is the norm for blacks to excel at everything. I am well aware of our capabilities. What I am taken aback by is the obstacles the most ambitious country in the world has placed in the paths of its youngest citizens for corporate interest.

  2. June 28, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    This is a bit simplistic, but the issue with young black men in the Caribbean now stems from a lack of a strong, positive, male mentors & father figures. They’re emulating the American hip-hop/gangsta lifestyles and mannerisms in many instances. They’re mimic men.

    As a result, enrolment of YBM in colleges and universities is not as high as it used to be, and is steadily dropping. There are many more women enrolled in UWI in most faculties. Academically, in the West Indies, in some secondary schools, YBM academic performance continues to decline. In some schools, YBM who are studious are considered ‘sissies’ and ‘girls’. All these factors play a role in the prison systems you mentioned above… not having a means to always earn a legit living due to said poor academic performance, many turn to crime.

    I highlighted this particular story as I can see parallels between what those students are going thru and what’s happening to YBM in my country.

    Again, this is highly simplistic, and I don’t mean to suggest that poor performance in school comes only from wanting to “Get Rich or Die Trying”.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. June 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Such is the power of media – the U.S. most potent export is “image”. Not only are young Caribbean men emulating this American image, so too are young American men. Yes, the earliest actors cast in this image (N.W.A. etc.) will tell you that they were never living that lifestyle before the media moguls came to them and with the deal, the cash and the idea to pose as ‘thugs’ in exchange for the opportunity to bring their art to a wider audience.

    But I DO NOT agree that this exported American image is responsible for the low YBM enrollment in college in the Caribbean. Are Caribbean women not listening to commercialized hip-hop and watching the same videos?

    I’d argue that Caribbean men are faced with an economic reality where their interests are not valued; and where a college education is not enough to elevate you to the level of ‘head of household’ as in years past. I’d argue that they are discouraged by this reality and are saying “to hell with it!”

    I think that the way we educate our people need to be overhauled. The base of it is mimicry, not self discovery/value. Our education rarely tap into the inventive spirit of the Caribbean people; we are taught that all ideas of substance are external to our own experience – from science to literature.

    Academic induction is not ‘education’. The ‘streets’ are educating the people and raising questions about disparities that academia has not been able to answer. That is why YBM are rejecting academia. Women have been shut out from this experience and finally have the chance so their enrollment is higher. But when their degrees reward them with substandard wages and low job satisfaction plus cultural alienation, they will do as the men are doing now – reject it in protest.

    Unfortunately, paternalistic societies the world over have always regarded women and their endeavors as having low value. So its not surprising that a studious YBM pursuing “the promise of academic achievement” would be regarded as a sissy/girl. In this statement we should not miss the fact that the accuser is describing his/her legitimate feeling about the promise of academic success: that is it is bogus.

    They hypocrisies and disparities in the world we have created are many – we are going to have to dismantle many of them before we can expect a peaceful future courtesy of our youth.

  4. 4 anonyjw
    June 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Well, like I said… I was being simplistic! 😉

    Man… you have a mind like a steel trap! Nothing gets past you at all, does it? 🙂

    You’re reminding me of my days on my secondary school debating team!!!

    Point, Counter, Point, Counter… 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and to share!

  5. 5 anonyjw
    July 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Interesting Letter to the Trinidad Express Editor here:


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