Updated: Jul 27, 2018
Our partner 100 Black Men of San Antonio (100BMOSA) seeks to improve educational opportunities in San Antonio for young black men and offer a mentoring network for the youth.
Written by: City Education Partners
In San Antonio’s historically urban school districts, a lack of community involvement often results in concerning outcomes for students. In San Antonio Independent School District, less than a quarter of children are Kindergarten-ready, and by third grade, less than three quarters (69.5%) of them are reading at an appropriate level. In contrast, Harlandale Independent School District graduates 92.3% of its high school students, but only 24.1% of them are college-ready. Across the board, 45.1% of San Antonio high school seniors enroll in college, but only 19.7% complete their degree.
City Education Partners spoke with members and guest speakers at The 100 Black Men of San Antonio’s June community meeting to find out how this nonprofit educational and mentorship organization is addressing the issues facing San Antonio’s public education system.
Dr. Abby Hasberry, Guest Speaker
What is your involvement with The 100 Black Men of San Antonio?
My husband is one of the 100BMOSA mentors; it was through that connection when I was asked to come speak about my experiences in education and public schools. So far I’ve been assisting the 100BMOSA’s mission by helping parents become advocates for their children’s education, as well as getting the word out about other options besides the regular independent school district system. I want to remind parents that they have a choice, while empowering them to find that best fit for their child. Educating the community on their rights, while putting the students first is also important to me, so I decided to become a surrogate parent in the Northside Independent School District. In that role, I get to speak on behalf of students at administrative and PTA meetings.
Dr. Chawanna Chambers, Guest Speaker
How did you get involved with 100 Black Men of San Antonio?
I’ve been involved with educational work in San Antonio’s public independent school districts and charter schools for a long time. One of my main focuses has been to create a system that educates parents on the choices that are available to them and that suit their child’s individual learning needs.
I was invited by Dr. Milton Harris to sit on a panel for parents, addressing communication needs and educational opportunities for students. There was a good level of parent reach at that event, about 100 parents came out. From there, Dr. Harris invited me to return to speak on how community members can get involved in San Antonio public schools at the June community meeting.
How did you decide to go into education?
As an undergraduate, I chose an elementary education major because I wanted to be the kind of teacher that I had in school and return some of the goodness that was bestowed upon me. I was shaped by always having supportive teachers who pushed me to go farther.
What caused your focus to shift to parent engagement in education?
Growing up, my mother was involved in my education despite working multiple jobs and going to school herself. But it wasn’t until I became a teacher myself, that I realized how vital it is that parents are actively informed and engaged in their child’s schooling. When parents didn’t show up for PTA meetings, I took the initiative to let parents know exactly what was going on in the classroom. To achieve that transparency, I created class websites where parents could access lesson plans and student and teacher notes. I believe in reaching out and talking to parents when their kids are doing really well, not just when disciplinary action is needed.
Dr. Milton Harris, Executive Director, 100BMOSA
What is the mentorship program that 100BMOSA offers?
Our mentorship program spans four different categories: education, health & wellness, leadership development, and economic empowerment. We provide this service to young black men from ages eight to seventeen, as well as a smaller collegiate group. Overall, we have 80 mentors serving 400 youth, in one-on-one sessions and groups. I came across this organization while looking for community volunteering opportunities and became a mentor.
As Executive Director, what plans are you overseeing for 100BMOSA’s near future?
Currently, we are looking to formalize our partnership with SAISD in order to establish actual sites on their campuses. From there, we would have a launching pad for our new program, Conquering Historical Economic Sub-Standards, or CHESS. This youth program teaches financial literacy using the game of chess. In chess, the goal is to protect the king: if you replace the king with the child’s dream, the goal becomes to protect their dream using financial literacy skills along the way. We are also reaching out to SAISD to incorporate our mentoring program to make it more accessible to youth both on and off campus.