Photo Credit: Dallas Youth Council
DALLAS- It was a chance for 250 youth to look into a crystal ball and dream about their future.
The Dallas Youth Council’s 8th Annual College tour traveled over 1,000 miles across Texas to give youth a first-time look at colleges and universities in Texas.
“We do this because as a Black man and an elected official it is important to open doors for youth and expose them to more than their neighborhoods,” said who leads the Dallas Youth Council and serves as District 4 Councilman Dwaine Caraway. “It gives them options to decide what to do with their lives.”
Youth were given a free whirlwind tour of Texas A&M College Station, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern University and Sam Houston State University and got the opportunity to tour campus, dormitories and meet with college admissions counselors to get questions answered about financial and academic requirements needed to attend the schools.
The mission of the Dallas Youth Council is carried out through programs that enhance educational success, provide life skills training and actual leadership training opportunities and promote the values of community service.
DYC serves as a voice for the youth of Dallas by recognizing and taking action on issues that exemplify safe, healthy, and positive youth development.
Through its programs, it seeks to increase leaders and reduce the gang association; increase healthy lifestyle choices and reduce teen pregnancy, STD, obesity rates; increase efforts to engage students in education and reduce school dropout rates; deliver high school transition programs to reduce crime and homeless rates; increase college, trade school and career choices; increase financial literacy and teach wealth building in order to reduce poverty.
“This is our way of giving back as fathers, parent and Big Brothers,” he said. “We may not have millions of dollars, but we have billion of seconds of time to make a difference in the lives of these youth.”
Given the latest proposal by President Obama’s for people to get involved in the My Brother’s Keeper’s initiative, the DYC is already been helping youth with some great success over the past eight years.
My Brother’s Keeper – is a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color. Across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success. However, this plan calls for more partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class.
On the initiative Caraway said, Washington has the right idea if use the right people get involved and and not just perform a dog and pony show.
“We have been a brother keepers type program for a while now,” he said. “Whatever is done must be a serious undertaking because the real metal of any program is whether it can be measured and whether you can see the results of youth going on to achieve things that only they could imagine.”
Caraway points out that the most important thing you can do is instill hope. This plays a major role in reshaping and remolding the mindset of young African-American youth.
He points to a young man who at age 12 started going on the tour and since was motivated to finish high school. According to Dallas Youth Council information, he was a youth struggling with issues at home including a mother on drugs and a brother in constant trouble with the law.
Today, that young man is attending Texas Southern University and about to be the first male to graduate college in his family.
“This was a kid that was a rough dime and we shined him up with a rough rag, but at the end of the day he ended up making some good decisions and doing the right thing,” he said. “I feels good to see kids go to college and come out of their difficult environments.”
Dallas Youth Council invites and helps kids from all over the Dallas and Fort Worth area to go on the tours.
Over the past seven years, the tour has taken over 2000 youth to many African-American HBCU’s, Texas colleges and universities, Black historical sites and civil rights sites. Some include visits to key civil rights sites in Arkansas, the Clinton Presidential Library, the Lorraine Motel museum in Memphis and other key African-American historic sites to name a few.
“Misplaced values are taking a toll on us as a people. We have our work cut out for us changing the direction of our youth.” Caraway said. “The challenge and call is for preachers, activists, politicians, journalists and fathers to get involved. I know we touch a lot of lives, but the key is for us to do this together. If each of us chips in and all of us saves one, we will save thousands.”