GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Feeling your best can improve your mindset.
It can also impact the way others perceive you.
“The Black Suit Initiative” is giving young men opportunities to take control of their future, and it happens with support from the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
Founding Executive Director Evainna Ross started the umbrella organization, The Sparrow’s Nest Incorporated, in 2004. It began as a mobile service taking resources to four public housing communities in Greensboro.
In 2016, troubling headlines prompted Ross to transition her focus to Black males in middle and high school. Now, teenagers at 30 different schools and all socio-economic backgrounds can participate in “The Black Suit Initiative” from sixth grade until they graduate high school.
The program has made a big difference for Justice Gossey; the sophomore at Northeast Guilford High School has been participating for three years and is now a youth ambassador. “It mentally and physically helps me because I have a stressed day, like a stressed week and this right here brings just whole, it makes me happy. I don’t have to think about anything else,” Gossey said.
More than 50 participants meet three times a month for workshops, community service projects, book discussions, career exploration, and team building. These give the young men tools to change the perception the world has about them.
Ross says the young men decide the curriculum and explore who they are to become what she calls “right now leaders.”
“We want them to feel like they are engaged, and they are a part of the solution to some of the things that are happening, some of the things that are going wrong,” Ross said. “One day it won’t matter what they think people think of them because they’re going to be the ones that are, are changing the perception and changing lives.”
“The Black Suit Initiative” is free for participants. Applications are only accepted May through June. Youth Ambassadors are responsible for selecting members in July.
Ross says participants have their suits altered or replaced an average of 4 times while they are part of the program.
You can find more about the program at blacksuit.org.