Programs for Progress
PROGRAMS FOR SUCCESS
Next Level’s program modules are designed to engage at risk, low-income ethnic minority young males, ages 12 to 20 years, through life skills and job development workshops, mentoring, tutoring, counseling, field excursions, and other extracurricular enrichment activities. The goal of our workshops is to instill in these youth the drive and desire to become responsible, civic-minded, and financially self-sufficient members of society. Our youth guidance strategies revolve around core principles of positive learning that help these young men become proficient in navigating school, the job market, and other real world settings.
Next Level’s integrative Program for Success is based on the philosophy that a nurturing environment can significantly improve the lives of individuals who have experienced excessive hardship, especially at certain critical thresholds in their lives. Youth service projects such as Next Level have been shown repeatedly to help marginalized young ethnic minority males – even those raised under undue harsh circumstances — to overcome the shortcomings of their environment. Here, at Next Level, they are guided to cultivate self-esteem, self-confidence, and trust in society’s preeminent values, including respect and compassion for others, hard work, and responsible parenting. As our clients gradually come to see for themselves the personal advantages of following a self-disciplined path, many of them will, over time, take the practical steps – the “Next Level” – to transform their own lives and improve their life outcomes.
Next Level serves male youth, primarily African American and Hispanic, in the Birmingham area of Jefferson metropolitan county. Eligible youth will be identified and recruited from various sources, including but not limited to, the juvenile corrections system, public schools, and other community based agencies targeting under served, ethnic minority male youth.
Although our program is geared toward young men from these two ethnic minority groups, males of all ethnic backgrounds, religious heritages, and racial ancestries are welcome in our workshops. In keeping with our policy of nondiscrimination, no male youth from a low-income background will ever be turned away from our program because of ethnicity, race, or religion. However, we reserve the right to exclude individuals because of untoward behavior and questionable past actions suggesting he may be a threat to himself or our clients.
Next Level offers youth, pre-screened for at-risk school attrition, excessive aggression, truancy, and delinquency an opportunity to receive life skills training, academic tutoring, and personal empowerment techniques through various workshop modules as well as mentoring with a qualified adult staff member or volunteer. Youth clients work with a caring mentor to improve their ability to develop a positive attitude towards their future. The long-term goal of Next Level is to empower each young male participant to break detrimental habits that lead to trouble in school, the streets, and the wider society.
Next Level’s Program for Success consists of a series of modules, including a multi mini-module program, described as follows:
This workshop gives participants intellectual tools to develop critical thinking. Participants will be taught to appreciate concepts such as clarity, rationality, open-mindedness, sound evidence, accuracy, precision and fairness in evaluating situations and in communicating with others. They will be taught that critical thinkers are clear about the purpose at hand because they question information, conclusions, and points of view. Critical thinkers seek to think beneath the surface, and to be logical and fair. Critical thinkers apply these skills to their reading and writing as well as to their speaking and listening.
The goal of this module is to plant the seed of critical thinking, so clients can apply it to everyday life situations, employing helpful information in their personal and professional lives. We propose conducting this unique extracurricular training seminar over a two-week period at a resort or camp. This setting may give some clients their first exposure to a safe, secure environment, a place where they can be free of deep-seated idiosyncrasies that otherwise would inhibit being open-minded. The Critical Thinking Workshop provides a wonderful opportunity to engage our young men in healthy, intriguing, and open discussion about matters which concern them, but which they usually shy away from.
Personal Development Planning / Social Skills Development
Personal Development Planning is the process of creating an action plan based on awareness, values, reflection, goal-setting, and planning for personal development within the context of a career, education, relationship or for self-improvement. This multi-module program consists of a series of interrelated workshops that foster personal responsibility in sexuality (including STD and unintended pregnancy prevention), relationships, health, violence prevention, and community building. In addition, some of the modules incorporate attributes of human potential growth such as self-esteem enhancement, while others emphasize developing concrete skills such as reading and other academic talents, employment preparation, STD and unintended pregnancy prevention, and parenting. The ultimate goal of this program is to promote healthy lifestyles for our young male members.
The goal of this module is to teach the ethnic minority young men in our program the importance of fatherhood, as there is a strong possibility that many of our clients grew up in a fatherless home, with little or no financial support from or knowledge of their biological father. This workshop is intended to break the cycle of the “Nomad Dad” by encouraging our client-fathers to reestablish contact with their own children, and eventually with their own fathers.
Although these objectives are difficult to achieve, they are worth pursuing because they can help young men to learn personal responsibility, and to develop compassion, caring, and an ethic of hard work. The benefits of becoming a good father have positive ramifications for many other areas of life skills development.
The Male Mentorship program provides an opportunity for a small group of two or more minority males to discuss any topics they want to discuss with a positive role model: a Next Level “on-call mentor.” Mentoring sessions may be planned or structured, or occur spontaneously when mentors — successful minority adult males— have the opportunity to discuss values, discipline, and decision-making with our clients, and possibly with their friends, others who may not be active members of Next Level and are just tagging along out of curiosity.
This program grew out of Founder (Ron Prince’s) personal experience with young ethnic minority mens’ need for adult male role models. As he notes: “Whenever there is an opportunity to engage two or more minority males at my office, I seize the opportunity by inviting one of my associates to come to my office. When he arrives, I ask him if wouldn’t mind conversing with these young men about whatever they want to talk about. I’ve found that in most cases the mentor’s educational level or speaking ability doesn’t matter. What seems to matter most is the fact that someone took the time to engage the young men in discussing an issue that was important to them.”