City News

100 Black Men of Madison begins program to close racial achievement gap

A petition started Wednesday by James Madison Memorial High School senior Mya Berry asks that the school name be changed because of its association with President Madison, who owned more than 100 black slaves.

Image By: Will Chizek

The organization 100 Black Men of Madison has launched a program called Project SOAR that aims to reduce the achievement gap of young African-American men in school, according to its website.

Project SOAR, which was initially launched several weeks ago and stands for Student Opportunities, Access and Readiness, targets black males ages 12-17 who attend middle or high school in the Madison Public School District.

It especially aims to serve students living in lower-income or single-parent households, students in foster care or the juvenile justice system, or students who are homeless, according to the organization’s website.

The project consists of one-on-one mentoring as well as discussions about careers and social issues. 

President of 100 Black Men of Madison Floyd Rose hopes the program will reduce the number of unexcused school absences among black students, which he said is a symptom of poverty.

“The vast majority of African-American male students in Madison have experienced poverty and its resulting symptoms such as unstable housing, inadequate health care and escalating community violence,” Rose said, according to the Capital Times. “We are committed to being positive role models in these students’ lives and ensure they are on a path to stay in school and graduate.”

In addition to the public school district, 100 Black Men of Madison has partnered with the City of Madison, United Way of Dane County, the Madison Police Department and African-American fraternities and sororities, among other groups.

Those interested in registering for Project SOAR can visit its website.

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