“Studies show that when boys of color have male educators of color, they are more likely to graduate from high school, experience increase self-esteem, and have greater chances of pursuing a four-year college degree. Currently, only 2% of teachers in public schools are men of color. Although there are efforts to recruit men of color into education, schools and districts struggle more with retaining men of color than recruiting.”
See the issue? Co-founder and Chief Impact Officer of Profound Gentlemen Mario Shaw decided to do something about this gap in educating boys of color by focusing on retaining male educators of color.
How it started
Mario Shaw and Jason Terrell met and became roommates while they were both in a program under Teach for America. Over many conversations the two discussed what it really means to impact boys of color. They considered why it is so necessary and what it would take to reach more boys. Through countless talks, the two realized that impacting male educators of color would allow them to best impact boys of color.
Through both research, building connections and sleepless nights, the two started Profound Gentlemen. Profound Gentlemen partnered with Dr. Chance Lewis, a professor over the Urban Education PhD program at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Dr. Lewis provided Mario and Jason with the research on why male educators tend to leave the classroom. Profound Gentlemen also worked with national organization Better Lesson’s Romain Betrand, who helped them look at what type of curriculum to focus on to make sure they maximize their educators’ potential to impact students. Now, only in their second year of their non-profit they were able to go national, something that most non-profits cannot do until year 5 of being established.
What they found
A program was formulated that would both support male educators of color and boys of color based on research from Dr. Lewis on the main four reasons male educators of color leave the classroom.
1) Barriers to navigate the profession
2) Lack of mentorship
3) Lack of professional development
4) Lack of career opportunities to help them get into the profession
The services Profound Gentlemen provide are designed to help male educators of color meet the needs that would prevent them from feeling the need to resign. “There are a lot of organizations out here that focus on recruitment. We wanted to focus on retention and why they are leaving. Our programs cater to this,” says Mario.
In addition, Profound Gentlemen’s vision is to retain educators of color who will dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline by establishing a cradle to career pipeline for boys of color. Profound Gentlemen both hope to impact educators and students.
In Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Memphis and Washington D.C. Profound Gentlemen mentors men and boys of color. Male educators go through a one year program to become an impact leader. These impact leaders will receive a cohort of no more than 20 gentlemen to mentor and provide support to. Gentlemen receive many services including 1 on 1 professional development and a professional development plan. In this plan they will create actionable goals and receive services based on their goals.
In addition they also go through character development, an aspect of growth that Profound Gentlemen believe is vital to a male educator of color remaining in the classroom. “Character development can even be focused on an aspect of their lifestyle, like spending more time with family,” says Mario. Although it isn’t content focused, it is a necessary part of retaining employees. When teachers aren’t meeting their basic needs, they cannot meet their professional goals.
Profound Gentlemen also works with schools in their program. “We understand that we cannot do this course alone,” says Mario, “So, we do professional development to support male educators of color with the schools.” This additional training accompanies their character development and support programs.
Some professional development given to members of Profound Gentlemen are more instructional focused. This may consist of a teacher being sponsored to go to a professional development session or even a conference to improve other skills.
There is also a mentor group for boys of color. This allows boys of color to get the extra time they need to interact with a male educator of color outside of the classroom. “Our male educators of color help boys of color to meet needs that they may not get in their general classes of math, science and social studies. They do so much more for the individual.”
Mario and Jason starting Profound Gentlemen to fill a gap in their community with men of color. This gap exists in Charlotte. Surprisingly, Mario hasn’t come across another organization filling this gap like Profound Gentlemen does. “We definitely have a niche here with what we are doing and the type of services we are providing. We do find organizations that focus on helping teachers, but our program specifically helps male educators of color,” explains Mario.
Luckily, Profound Gentlemen has experienced mostly success in their growth. However, they do meet obstacles with recruiting educators. “We recognize that we are doing something special with our gentlemen. We are trying to really grow our gentlemen in ways that many teaching development programs don’t offer. Since we are doing this, we first need to make sure that our staff are in a position where they are vulnerable enough to spread their knowledge to support male educators of color in their cohort groups,” says Mario. Staffing becomes an issue when male educators cannot commit to the work that goes into being an impact leader. “It is difficult for these gentlemen to dedicate the amount of time we request from them to this program,” says Mario. Profound gentlemen asks their male educators to dedicate 1 year to the Profound Gentlemen development program and 2 years in the classroom. A limited staff pool for Profound Gentlemen doesn’t scare Mario, because of the tremendous growth their organization continues to have.
How to get involved
The Profound Gentlemen are always looking for male educators of color to join their program. “We also love our friends of PG, our volunteers who help us throughout the year,” says Mario. There are tons of different volunteer opportunities throughout the year for those who want to get involved to help this cause. See contact information below if you’re interested!
“You don’t have to be an educator to help our educators out,” says Mario. Profound Gentlemen has round tables where all sorts of people come to discuss issues that a chosen educator may have. Parents, graduate students and others who are interested in creating great educators come to give their viewpoints on the issue being discussed. The educator gets a full approach to viewing different solutions to solve their problem or a problem of their student.
Want to get in touch?
Profound Gentlemen continues to grow and increase the number of male educators of color and boys of color. To help Profound Gentlemen continue their great work, reach out and get involved! Whether you are donating, volunteering or becoming a Profound Gentlemen, the first step is to get in touch!