Sixty-seven young men from Glynn and McIntosh counties will walk across the auditorium stage on the College of Coastal Georgia’s campus today, standing proudly as the hard work they have done for the past five weeks comes to fruition.
The cohort of young men have been active since June 8 in a joint effort between the Fourteen Black Men of Glynn and College of Coastal Georgia known as the Minority Outreach Program.
In its 22nd year, the summer program is open to rising sixth and seventh graders. Teachers, tutors and mentors touch on reading, writing, math, and all areas covered by standardized testing, enabling participants to achieve higher grades and earn diplomas.
Students also take part in experiences outside the college campus, taking field trips to various historic sites and museums, which help enhance cultural enrichment and personal development, said Floyd Phoenix, program director of the summer initiative.
Phoenix is a former president of the Fourteen Black Men of Glynn, the recently retired coordinator of diversity and inclusion and the Title IX coordinator of the college’s Office of Student Affairs.
Many of the students registered for the summer program are from lower-income families, where hurdles due to financial constraints and other challenges can hinder successful educational pathways and can often lead to students dropping out of school before earning a diploma, Phoenix said.
The program includes transportation to McIntosh and Glynn counties, thanks to the Glynn County School System, and a free lunch provided by a USDA grant, Phoenix said.
Encouraging students early on to keep a steady academic route and earn a degree is further fueled by events such as today’s graduation, said Jason Umfress, vice president for student affairs at the college.
Phoenix said 47 sixth graders have completed the first level of the program, making them eligible to return next summer to complete the second level. Twenty rising seventh graders are earning their certificates of completion, said John Cornell, marketing and public relations director.
The program has a proven track record of helping students who may be in danger of an unsuccessful academic career.
“Serving our community is a foundational piece of the mission of the college, and the Boys of Summer program is an excellent way we can use our resources to help change the future of these young men,” Umfress said. “We have heard over and over again from alumni of the program that this was a defining moment in their lives, when they formed connections with mentors, gained confidence in their academic abilities and made personal commitments to their education and their future.
“This program quite literally changes lives, and the impact that has on our community is felt for generations.”
At this evening’s ceremony, program counselor Eugene Williams and Marty Simmons, president of Fourteen Black Men of Glynn, will present students certificates of achievement.
Guest speaker for the ceremony is Trevel Seals, a rising seventh grader at Glynn Middle School.
The program is made possible by the college foundation and the Fourteen Black Men of Glynn.
Graduation is set for 7 p.m. in the Thomas Auditorium of the Southeast Georgia Conference Center.