ALBANY – On February 17, 2023, Poughkeepsie My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) fellows Keenan Wood, Jameel Richardson Jr, and mentor and PHS school counselor Jason Conrad traveled to Albany for the MBK Stand and Deliver Leadership Showcase to deliver a TED-style talk on what they are learning and living in MBK.
Established in 2018, the My Brother’s Keeper Fellows Program provides rising 12th-grade high school students with opportunities to gain authentic leadership experiences and develop service projects beneficial to the schools they attend and the communities they live in. MBK fellows are provided with authentic leadership opportunities in government, education, and business. Both Keenan Wood and Jameel Richardson Jr. are the fifth cohort of young men of color who represent the Poughkeepsie City School District as MBK fellows.
As part of the Stand and Deliver Leadership Showcase, fellows from across the state prepared a 90-second speech on the topic: “Living and Learning: My MBK Story” briefly detailing what they are learning and living in MBK.
“The audience (primarily composed of MBK mentors) were very supportive and even told the fellows who were nervous that it was completely natural, and that there was nothing to be fearful about,” Wood said.
The My Brother’s Keeper Fellows Program is one of six grant programs the New York State Department of Education offers communities throughout New York State. The New York State My Brother’s Keeper Community Network includes more than 20 member communities that have joined the growing initiative to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. The Poughkeepsie City School District is a recipient of The MBK Fellows Program and Family and Community Engagement Program.
Wood said the cooperation between the fellows, mentors, and other speakers was “really impactful.”
He described an exercise in which when someone exclaimed “2 claps” after someone said something interesting or knowledgeable, the audience would respond by clapping twice, pointing at the speaker, and saying “BAM!” in unison (implying that they either support, acknowledge, or agree with what was said). “Overall, this conference was a really impactful experience and I had a great time hearing what my fellow brothers and other speakers in the program had to say!”
“Some of the most powerful parts of the MBK Stand and Deliver Conference was the fact that each fellow was brave enough to share different parts of their life no matter how personal it was, and how MBK has changed them as a person,” said Kennan Wood.
Under the leadership of Da’Ron Wilson, executive director of school engagement, and Elena Rosado,
special projects assistant, the district was recently awarded a three year MBK Fellows grant to support the leadership development of Poughkeepsie City School District’s 12th grade young men of color.
The $47,600 over the next three years will provide continued programming and support to provide two young men of color the opportunity to participate in the New York State MBK Fellows Program.
In addition to the Stand and Deliver Leadership Showcase, the Fellows Program has provided a college essay master class, mastermind book study, leadership workshops and other opportunities.