The Real Life 101 Scholarship Fund, a National Scholarship and Mentoring Program, is putting a stop to the criminalization of young black men by providing scholarship funding, mentoring, and educational – academic resources to black males in high school. Real Life 101 is “INVESTING IN EDUCATION AND NOT INCARCERATION.” The non-profit partnered with Bloom Trail high school in Chicago Heights in the fall of 2011 and plans to expand its program to the Southside of Chicago and every state by 2017 in hopes to combat the alarming statistics amongst black males.
The Real Life 101 Program
Founded in 2000 by businessman Sid E. Taylor (Founder and Chairman of SET Enterprises, Inc.), Now in its 16th year, the program has invested $1.2 million, more than 500 scholarships and 2,000 computers to help young men get through college. So far, 65 students have graduated from colleges and universities all across the world and 135 students are still in the Real Life program pursuing their degrees. The Real Life program now serves 32 schools in 12 states across the country with more than 250 dedicated professionals who serve as mentors to its program participants. From 2000 to 2014 the 501(c) (3) organization has awarded more than $1.5 million dollars in scholarships, more than 2000 laptop computers to high school graduates. Additionally, Real Life 101 has more than 250 dedicated professionals who serve as mentors to its program participants. Plans are underway to extend its program to all 50 states by 2017.
“There is no cavalry coming to save the day in our black communities in America. We have the answers we are looking for and it starts right here with each and every one of us. We have to take action on the things that matter, and those things are our young black men! We have to start recognizing our young black men as true assets and not problems to be solved,” said Sid E. Taylor.
How the Real Life 101 Program works
Students submit an online application along with a 1,000-word essay on the topic of “what will you do personally to improve the image of Black males in America?” The program admits 10 students from each high school. Once selected, each student receives a five-year $1,000.00 scholarship totaling $50, 000 in funding for furthering their education at a college, university or trade program. Students also receive a laptop computer loaded with Microsoft Office software, a laptop backpack and a personal certified mentor. The mentors are personally appointed to provide an encouraging and listening ear while assisting the students in navigating life’s challenges. The laptop computers are given to each student to ensure that they have the resources and tools needed to be successful in their studies. “ We instill a give back attitude with the expectation that each student will reach back and pull another student forward along the path for success,” Taylor added. “As we encourage students and guide them towards a successful path, we are strategically breaking down the barriers that preclude success.”