A group of nearly 200 young Black men stood before family, friends, and the community ready to embark on their next journey in life on June 9 at the College Bound Brotherhood Graduation at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland.
The annual graduation was hosted by the Kapor Center for Social Impact, College Futures Foundation and the Marcus Foster Education Fund.
The College Bound Brotherhood, established in 2008, seeks to increase the college readiness, access, and persistence of African American young men from the San Francisco Bay Area, and supports them throughout college.
During the ceremony, the young men were recognized for their achievements in high school and also received scholarships from College Futures Foundation to help with their college tuition.
Each graduate announced the college they will be attending in the fall and were presented with kente stoles. The list of institutions included: UCLA, Howard University, San Francisco State University, Tuskegee University, California State University East Bay, Sonoma State University, and Morehouse College, to name a few.
Frederick Hutson, founder of tech company Pigeonly, delivered a keynote to the graduates. David Thomas, a former Brotherhood student who graduated from Howard University this spring, also shared some inspiring and encouraging words with the young men.
For the graduates, this is just the beginning, and the outpour of support from the Brotherhood for them makes a difference.
“I wasn’t really sure how I was going to pay for college, but Brotherhood provided me with some of the funds to get to college,” said Kelton Runnels, a graduate of McClymonds High School who will attend University of La Verne this fall.
He said of being honored at the graduation, “It felt good because it felt like I was supported and that nobody wanted to see me fail.”
Malik Stills-Bey, having graduated from Oakland Technical High School, will attend Southern University this fall and plans to major in mechanical engineering and minor in business.
Speaking with the Post on the Brotherhood program, Stills-Bey said, “It gives me pride in what I’m doing with my education. It helps me so that I can evolve and be successful and be proud of what I’m doing.”
“And, knowing that I have a support system that I can go to at any time so that they can help me, or just looking to my brothers and just trying to inspire young brothers around Oakland and the Bay Area to do better,” he added.
Some nonprofit partners with the Brotherhood program are Alive and Free, Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Youth Radio, The Hidden Genius Project, Parents Connected in Antioch, and Striving Black Brothers Coalition at Chabot College.
“All of this is wrapping support around their journey through school,” said Cedric Brown, Chief of Philanthropy with the Kapor Center. “Our partner nonprofit organizations are also starting to build up their alumni network so that they remain in touch with these young men as they move through school – such as EOYDC, Alive and Free. We’re trying to get everybody to have a long view and to provide that support.”
“We want the graduates to know that their opportunities are limitless,” said Justin Davis, Program Officer with College Bound Brotherhood. “The education process never stops, so continue learning, continue challenging yourself.”