Greensboro program helps engage underserved youth in leadership initiatives

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Evainna Ross is motivated by some really tough statistics.

"1 out of 3 African American males will spend some time in prison," Ross says. "We want to make sure these young men never go that path."

So, she created the Sparrow's Nest in 2008 as a mobile service for youth in Greensboro's large public housing communities.

"We were offering education and arts and reading, sculpting," she said. "It just grew to become something that was too difficult to manage with the manpower we had."

Out of it, the Black Suit Initiative was born -- a leadership and community engagement program."

Now in its second year, it focuses on a core group of middle and high school males and follows them through graduation.

There are guest speakers, panelists, a reading program, spelling component and field trips. They all earn points toward a full black suit.

There's no cost to participants thanks in part to the support of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.

"Being more formal does help the thought process, it helps with self-esteem," Ross says. "So, we want to make sure that they have all the necessary tools not only educationally but we want them to be fashionably savvy as well."

Learn more here.