With our world evolving on a daily basis, it’s only natural for every aspect to change as well, including education. As the next generation is groomed to take over the world, meet a few Profound Gentleman who are responsible for helping make our future leaders knowlegable.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mario Jovan Shaw and I am the chief impact officer and co-founder of Profound Gentlemen. I’m originally from Cleveland, where I attended public schools. The schools I attended were extremely underfunded with many dropouts and failed promises. I was the first in my family to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree.
When thinking of the process of education, which component do you think is most transformative? The classroom or the home?
I think you definitely have to focus on both. The classroom is a place where students should be able to challenge biases and stereotypes. They should be given the tools to navigate this world and live out their purpose. The unfortunate side is that far to often students aren’t given the resources to succeed or even compete in the 21st century. Additionally, parents are faced with systematic oppressive structures that oftentimes separate them from being able to show up for students. I believe that classrooms and homes cannot work in isolation. We must work together to do what’s best for kids. Who is the program geared to and what are some of the things that you guys specialize in?
Who is the program geared to and what are some of the things that you guys specialize in?
The Program is geared towards retaining male educators of color. Males of color are 5 times more likely to leave the education profession. Today, there are only 2% of black male educators. In order to change this around, we need to address the top four reasons why males of color leave the profession: barriers to navigate the profession, lack of career support, lack of mentorship, and lack of professional development. Aspiring and current male educators of color apply to become members of PG twice a year (August & January) Gentlemen are placed into a cohort based on region. Cohorts are made up of 20 Gentlemen, led by an Impact Leader. We have local regions in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Memphis, and D.C. Gentlemen outside of those regions are able to join our online programming. All Gentlemen have an Impact Professional Development Plan to assist them in creating semester goals around our 3C Focus areas. They receive over 20 hours of one-on-one support with an Impact Leader, who serves as a peer mentor that connects them to resources and holds them accountable.
Whose responsibility is it to ensure that we have equal representation in schools so that young kids of color have people to look to and relate to?
I think that it’s a collective effort to ensure that schools are equitable for students of color. I believe that we should reshape what school looks like for all students. It’s a great time to be innovative and think of unique tools that can help students, more particular students of color. Many schools and organizations work in isolation and I believe that’s the reason some tend to fail. We can’t place blame on just one system or program. We can work together to solve some of our most pressing issues.
Is higher education a focus? If so, do you emphasize any pipeline programs for kids as it relates to higher education?
Higher education has become a priority in our organization as over 50% of males that are education majors in color never step foot into the classroom. We have to close the gap by providing services to aspiring educators as well. This is why Profound Gentlemen is hosting a New Educator’s Retreat where we have invested in supporting close to 30 beginning and aspiring male educators of color to serve in the classroom. In the past, we have been able to retain over 93% of male educators of color in their first year.
What drove you to create this transformative program and what keeps you motivated?
Jason and Mario were in their second year of teaching when they started an after school program to serve boys of color. The boys of color in their program mentioned the need to increase more male educators of color in education. Both Jason and Mario began to do speaking engagements to address the need to increase more male educators of color. The responses led them to start Profound Gentlemen.
What is one of the biggest impacts that you have had on a kid, and how did it change their life?
I think one of our biggest impacts is providing high school boys with internship experiences at Profound Gentlemen. To date, we’ve employed over 6 boys of color in the program. Our guys have been able to travel out of the country and speak on panels. Apart from this experience, boys of color apply to colleges in scholarships. We’ve been able to get 100% of them in college with at least 50% of tuition covered.
What steps have you taken in Memphis, a predominantly African American city, to enable 100% of Profound Gentlemen members to return to education?
Here in Memphis, we equip our gentlemen with a range of resources that are conducive to the classroom as well as the communities that they serve. We believe that an investment in Memphis helps our gentlemen continue this work. Our gentlemen are involved in several organizations in the city, such as Memphis Urban League Young Professionals. They are even involved in campaigns during this election season. We believe that being successful in education means being successful in moving Memphis forward. – Tim Green Jr. Memphis Impact Leader
Here in Memphis, we also focused on the development of authentic relationships and intentional support for our educators. This allowed our Gentlemen to develop a sense of belonging and a desire to maximize their impact in Memphis as male educators of color. – Archie Moss, Memphis Impact Leader
Black educators who are interested in being apart of Profound Gentlemen, how do they reach out and connect to you guys?
They can visit ProfoundGentlemen. We offer an entire membership portal that offers resources and includes an event calendar!