TO A HIGHER STANDARD
HELPING KIDS PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
A NEW KIND OF PIPELINE
By Donté Brown
As a student at Eastern Senior High School in Washington DC, I was required to use a see-through backpack, walk through metal detectors and face pat-downs with metal wands. I know how demoralizing and discouraging this environment can be.
The “school to prison pipeline,” where a disproportionate number of minors from disadvantaged backgrounds become incarcerated, is alive and well. It works like this: inner-city minority youth are arrested for minor infractions while attending a school where local police have been outsourced for behavioral (and mental health) issues. Students are then alienated from school, and the behavioral issues that initially created the crisis go unaddressed. For these at-risk youth, there remains a lack of strong role models and proper guidance, virtually no emphasis on or rewards from their education and no extracurricular activities to keep students engaged.
The trauma that today’s youth experience is unparalleled compared to any other generation. Students are subject to frequent school shootings, 24-hour news cycles, social media, peer pressure, mental health concerns (including anxiety and depression), an increase in teen suicides and more. Today’s young people need more than the classroom to succeed. They need a united community.
With this in mind, I launched Donté’s Boxing and Wellness Foundation (DBWF) to create an alternative “pipeline,” which focuses on five objectives to break the cycle for inner-city youth.
Bring in kids during grade school (ages 4-17).
Enroll these youth in classes and programs in Donté’s Boxing Gym, including programs specific to the foundation:
• Amateur Boxing Competition Team
• “Tiny Tots BOX”
• Youth Beginners Boxing
• Youth Confidence Boxing Workshop
• All Girls Beginners
Find internships and/or summer jobs for the kids in the program
Create scholarships and stipends for post-secondary education institutions
Offer career counseling from a young age, giving kids direction and allowing them to see opportunities
DBWF will provide resources for youth by introducing students to positive role models, emphasizing reading and listening to educational podcasts, developing a growth mindset, providing a great after-school schedule, and pointing students toward classes and programs to continue to spark their curiosity and learn to recognize opportunities.
Internship, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for young people are vast. Great leadership and partnerships are in short supply. Becoming a part of this network is to actively contribute to the future achievement of the youth in this community. Through your generous donations, the resources we have at our disposal will make a lasting impact on the students enrolled in the Donte’s Boxing & Wellness Foundation.
Donations help our competition team compete in multiple shows and tournaments throughout the year. Our team members gain invaluable self-confidence as they identify as “winners” through achievement at competitions, media attention and experiencing the value of hard work.
Donté’s Boxing and Wellness Foundation (DBWF) will focus on overall wellness, including overcoming personal, economic and health challenges that affect all youth into adulthood. To achieve these goals,
the Foundation will operate in three areas:
DBWF will be home to an amateur boxing competition team. Through regular meetings, students will be required to maintain a high standard of discipline while learning how to build healthy relationships. As the competitive team grows in popularity, it will elevate young participants to become role models in their community.
The Foundation will create scholarship opportunities and stipends for the students on the competition team and other youth in the gym. In order to qualify, students will be required to maintain excellent grades and contribute to the DBWF program with a myriad of responsibilities.
DBWF will create and build relationships with the local business community to secure internships and summer jobs for students. This real-world experience will present students with opportunities to explore a myriad of careers as they consider their own futures while preparing them to become successful, independent adults.
Donté Brown’s journey has not been an easy one. Considered an “at risk” youth at Washington, D.C.’s Eastern Senior H.S., he was selected as one of 150 students for The H.O.P.E. Program, ensuring tuition for a college education if students met three key requirements through all four years of high school.
“We had to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA throughout high school,” Donté remembers. “We couldn’t get suspended from school for any reason, and we couldn’t get pregnant or get someone pregnant.”
Of the 150 freshman students chosen for the program, only 12 graduated from high school with the scholarship intact, and just four students went on to earn a college degree. Donté Brown was one of those four students.
“I have often reflected back to how many people helped me become the man that I am today,” Donté says. “Without the encouragement and guidance of people like my high school counselor Mrs. Peterson, I am not sure where I’d be today.”
Since launching his private boxing gym, Donté has come to recognize the value of giving at-risk youth similar opportunities to learn more about themselves through boxing and helping them to become independent adults who can, in turn, give back to the community.