RIVIERA BEACH, Fla .– A non-profit organization dedicated to creating “generational wealth and empowerment” for black men in Riviera Beach is celebrating its two year anniversary.
Young Men of Distinction was founded by a resident dissatisfied with the city’s crime statistics. His goal: to offer black men aged 7 to 18 a village he believed they were missing. And the village has grown.
Palm Beach Gardens High School high school student Kevin Towns is busy preparing for the ASVAB test. Even with a 4.0 GPA, he’s determined to make studying a daily activity.
âIt means a lot to me,â Towns said.
The ASVAB is a multiple aptitude test used to determine whether a person is fit to enlist in the United States Armed Forces. And Young Men of Distinction founder and CEO Jacoby Waters wants to make sure he has the score to enter.
âHe’s my big brother, a friend and a mentor,â Towns said.
It’s just one part of the fortification program for kids and teens every week to turn the stats around.
âIt’s time for a different message,â Waters said. âThis program is about solutions and results.
Waters staff meet with parents weekly. The program also requires a weekly financial literacy workshop and on weekends there is a mandatory community service project.
âCreating a village requires going back to basics,â Waters said.
There is also a social responsibility. The non-profit organization’s âI Matter Challengeâ is part of a claim to expose black-on-black crime and police brutality.
âWe have enough against us already,â Waters said. “We have law enforcement, the justice system – black on black crime, so I think black man extinction is happening and if we don’t wake up we’ll be extinct.” , did he declare.
For parent Latasha Mitchell, enrichment programming really works.
âYoung Men of Distinction filled that void and made (Kevin) more confident and more able to just encourage others as they encourage him,â Mitchell said. âIt starts with knowing where you’re going to be in your direction as a young man. “
And Mitchell believes his son will follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and serve in the military through the program.
âHe will serve his riding now that he has learned from Young Men of Distinction how to serve his community,â she said.
The new class of Young Men of Distinction begins in August. The inaugural Ladies of Distinction class begins in July. Both courses are open to youth from Riviera and Boynton Beach.
Applications are accepted for both Young Men of Distinction and New Classes for Ladies of Distinction. Your child must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher. There is also an initial interview session to attend. And parents and youth must commit to attending weekly workshops, group activities and the end-of-year gala.
To find out more about Young Men of Distinction, Click here.
To learn more about Ladies of Distinction, visit: Click here.
On Friday, WPTV’s Arthur Mondale will be honored by the nonprofit with an award for his contributions to changing the narrative surrounding black youth in South Florida.