Thursday, August 30, 2007

How Much Money Buys Change?


1987. KRS-1. Crack. Triple Fat Goose Jackets. Mickey Mouse Shirts. The Black community was in the throes of a battle which would have drastic unforeseen consequences as far as quality of life issues; To me it was the best time ever...

In Philadelphia, there was a stigma attached to you based upon what school you went to (It would be years later that I found out why the stigma was oh so real). Certain schools had well-deserved reputation for being dens of "hell" as far as dysfunctional behavior was concerned; the type of school where girls having sex at the age of 10 was fairly common. One of the schools with this reputation was Belmont, a school in the "Black Bottom" section of West Philadelphia, so named because the neighborhood was the only place where Black people could live in West Philly during the early 1900's. On June 19, 1987, Philanthropist George Weiss & his wife offered the 6th grade graduating class of 112 free college educations along with a full-time staff to tutor & set up summer programs that would assist the youth in getting through High School. Now, in many circles, this kind of offer would show that if poor black children were given the same opportunities that others were afforded in this country, a sea change would emerge.

What were the results you ask...

of the 112:

- 65 earned high school diplomas

- 34 dropped out

- 8 died (7 violently)

Now of the 65 that graduated:

- 26 didn't go any further

- 20 earned bachelor degrees

- 10 earned associate degrees

- 14 earned a vocational certificate

In addition, 30 of the 112 became teen mothers...

Why am I taking up your time to add-on about this? To ask the simple question:

What are we going to do once we realize that all of the money in the world won't change our situation?

The tab for the program was approx. $5 million dollars... 5 mil to produce 20 bachelor degrees? Now to be fair, some of those who succeeded may not have if not for the program & many were victims of poor education before they were adopted into this program. My larger point is that we have to change the mental conditions that our youth live in before they'll be interested to change their physical conditions. Many mistakenly spout that "Knowledge is Power" when in reality, Culture sets the stage for powerful change. Without Culture, you're just pissing in the wind & throwing money away (On a side note, much of what we think is knowledge is actually data or information that cannot truly serve as a base for activity). Those that created these environments are fully aware that money in & of itself can do very little to remedy these worlds; that's why they keep giving money to programs so that they can absolve themselves of any blame for our conditions; call it reparations 140 years late...

We have to be strategic and focused with the blueprint for ressurecting our families & neighborhoods, and it won't be with money only; it will be based on a thorough analysis & best practices that can produce a sea change from Washington to Watts. If not, don't be mad at me when you go for a grant, get the grant & find out that a fool & his/her money are soon parted...

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