A Ferguson-based program is helping Black men overcome barriers to re-entry. Dubbed Save Our Sons, the initiative is focused on preparing African-American men to enter the workforce; including individuals who have committed crimes in the past, the U.S. News & World Report reported.
The program was launched by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, the news outlet writes. Aware of the socio-economic barriers that Black men in the community face when trying to advance their education and careers, the organization identified a need for an outlet that would level the playing field for these men. The program hosts workshops that cover everything from how to find a job and how to make yourself marketable in the workplace. The curriculum is focused on merging career skills and general life skills. SOS has partnered with retailers that include Men’s Warehouse, Brooks Brothers, and Macy’s to provide suits for the participants.
Over the last three years, nearly 500 men have gone through the program and 400 of them have landed employment. “We like to say this program is not for everyone, but it is for anyone whose desire is to change their life,” Jamie Dennis, SOS Director, said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “If you are actually tired of what you have been going through out on the street, the quick hustles, the cash under the table, we are here to legitimize the hustle, so to speak. We’re talking long-term change, not to just get a job but how you fit into the community and represent that community.” He added that he hopes the program changes negative narratives surrounding Black men and hopes SOS helps society to see them in a different light.
The program has left a lasting impact on its participants. “Somehow, this program came out of the ashes,” said SOS graduate Waheed Muhaimin. “My confidence had been shattered. SOS helped to boost that for me.”
There are many program initiatives across the country designed to empower Black men and boys. The New York City-based That Suits You is on a mission to teach men the importance of properly dressing and to help prepare them for when an opportunity comes their way.