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New Program Helps Black Students Succeed

Although they make up less than six percent of the King County population, Black youth comprise almost 28% of the detention population. A new program at Kentlake High School is hoping to change this for young Black students.

The Breakfast Group, an all-volunteer non-profit organization led by local African American men who donate their personal time, professional expertise and connections to help youth succeed, is partnering with Kent School District to implement the Project MISTER Program (Male Involvement & Service to Encourage Responsibility), which focuses on improving the educational success of African American males.

"Project MISTER gives students hope by channeling into their interests and showing them different pathways to get there,” Kentlake Dean of Students Mia Mbugua said. “More importantly, they connect with students and show them the importance of how their current actions can create a bright future for them moving forward.”

Kentlake leaders worked with community partner leadership to select 23 students in grades 9 through 11 who could benefit from support to participate in the program. They will have the opportunity to meet with their mentors multiple times a week to explore important topics like career exploration, culturally responsive identity development, and the habits and skills of effective scholars and leaders. Additionally, mentors will collaborate with Kentlake leadership and teachers to help develop personalized supports for students.

One student participating in the program said, “I have been grateful to have an opportunity to get help doing what I love and Malcolm is someone I can relate in terms of growing up, he has had similar experiences and has an idea what I go through.”

“With equitable educational opportunities, a person’s life circumstances can be impacted substantially,” Project MISTER states. “90% of youth in the MISTER program complete a secondary education plan or take steps to enroll in college, an apprenticeship program, job training, or employment after graduating high school.”

Mbugua said, “Representation, support, and accessibility to resources are important for all students, and Project Mister provides this for our young men of the BIPOC community.”

This program is made possible by EP&O levy funding to address social emotional learning supports in our district and supports our goal of creating effective organizational systems reinforcing equity and excellence.