The following is a guest blog by Demetrius Brown, a Coordinator with the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) in Washington, DC. RAMP-DC partners with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and enrolls adjudicated youth at New Beginnings Youth Development Center (New Beginnings) six months prior to release and continues working with them for six months after they return to their communities. Youth participate in weekly career preparation-focused group meetings, including peer-supported goal-setting and exploration of careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while in New Beginnings. RAMP-DC is funded by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. RAMP is based on a variety of foundational materials developed by NCWD/Youth including the Guideposts for Success and Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career-Focused Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities.
By Demetrius Brown
On November 21, 2014, the RAMP youth got a special treat before the holidays. In collaboration with New Beginnings, the Progressive Life Center RAMP Coordinator, and RAMP mentor Keith ‘Wali’ Johnson, we were able to bring national recording rap artist and local celebrity, Wale, from MMG music group, to speak to the youth at New Beginnings Youth Development Center.
Wale, who was born and raised in the metropolitan DC area, wanted an opportunity to give back to the youth who have been through the adjudication system. Wale, a product of the juvenile justice system himself, spoke with the youth to give them words of encouragement and advice on how to succeed in the many fields that exist within the recording industry, and about making better choices in life. With a great number of RAMP youth interested in careers in the performance arts, Wale encouraged them to continue building and working on their craft, all while not getting discouraged based on the current situation they’re in. Wale expressed the importance of perseverance and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Something that stuck with a number of the youth was when Wale said, “Don’t hang around dudes that don’t have nothing going on with their lives. Start hanging around positive people that have the same interest and build on your craft. Keep writing; keep producing; keep rapping.”
One youth, whose career goal is to become a respected rapper shared, “Wale just gave me a lil bit more hope about making it out of D.C. I‘m going to take his advice on writing every day, cause it’s going to help me form songs better.”
Opportunities like this, are extremely motivating to the youth population at New Beginnings. We have a unique group of young people that require individualized attention not only from our community support workers, but from established professionals as well. These events give youth a chance to think on a larger scale, set career and other transition-oriented goals, and fulfill them, one step at a time.
- The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP)
- Guideposts for Success
- Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career-Focused Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities
- Making the Right Turn: A Guide About Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System
- Plotting the Course for Success: An Individualized Mentoring Plan for Youth with Disabilities